Spring Chapter Meeting & Letter-Writing Dates!


Dear Humanities Behind Bars members and supporters,

Welcome back to another semester of study and struggle! We are excited to announce our upcoming Pen-Pal Program dates at the Muse Writer's Center (2200 Colonial Ave., Suite #3, Norfolk, VA 23517). We are changing things up a bit and combining our letter-writing hours with a monthly chapter meeting so that we may be in more frequent contact with you all! This means that the first hour will be dedicated to our regular letter-writing session and the second hour will be an organizing meeting about HBB and the initiatives, campaigns, and efforts we are involved in. We would love to hear about and collaborate with you on your work, too, so please join us! Those attending for the letter-writing portion are also welcome to join us for the chapter meeting or stay and write letters throughout the session.

We will be meeting on the last Thursday of every month: January 30th, February 27th, March 26th, and April 30th from 7 - 9 PM. Light refreshments will be provided, and everyone is welcome!  If you need a ride, please contact us. 

We encourage our current teachers and tutors at Norfolk City Jail to join us for support! We will address any questions, comments, or concerns at this time. It will also allow you to speak with and gain insight from one another in an open forum! 

For an overview of the pen-pal program, check out our collectively written guidelines.

We will soon be posting an event through our Facebook Page!
 Come build solidarity with our imprisoned comrades and learn about ongoing and future HBB campaign efforts, direct action initiatives, and opportunities for engagement! The more, the merrier! We are excited to scheme and dream together!


Over the holiday break, Renee Robinson (pictured second to the right in the image below) from our TCC-Norfolk Chapter conducted her second annual Toy Drive, which was immensely successful! Thanks to her and other dedicated volunteers, many families of currently and formerly incarcerated comrades received community-based care this holiday season! Thank you to all who donated toys, books, quilts, and other items in order to make this event happen. Another thank you to volunteers and community members who facilitated and contributed to the Toy Drive as well! This is what we mean when we talk about #PeoplePower!


At the end of the fall semester we held our Zine Release Party, where we were able to showcase our newest zine, Contraband Love, at O'Connor Brewing Company! We were so happy to engage and socialize with Norfolk community members with many zine copies, t-shirts, and stickers sold throughout the night. As you all know, all proceeds fundraised went directly back into the organization for maintenance costs and to support our currently and formerly incarcerated comrades via our legal defense & bond fund! Thank you to everyone who came out in support!

The image below was taken during the event, where you can see Alison, DeAnna, grant-writer extraordinaire, and Casey as they promoted all of the great work we do!


Also, Alison (Dr. Reed) was part of an exciting roundtable titled "Humanities Behind Bars: Toward an Abolitionist Praxis in Prison Education Programs" at this year's Modern Language Association Conference in early January. With her longtime mentor, comrade, and collaborator Dr. Felice Blake (second from left), she co-organized this critical conversation with other like-minded scholar-activists (from left to right): Ofelia Ortiz Cuevas, Nicole Dib, AM Weatherford, Dean Spade, and Paula Ioanide (not pictured). We're very excited to take the knowledge generated here and apply it to our current and future work as we link group-based study and mutual aid to direct action!
Humanities Behind Bars also wants to share the archived online version of Issue 30 of Critical Resistance's newspaper, The Abolitionist, which gets mailed out free of charge to over 5,500 people in prisons, jails, and detention centers across the country. In their opening letter to readers, the editors reference our essay, which you can find on page 9 of the issue, writing "[t]wo leaders of the education program Humanities Behind Bars demonstrate how group-based study and mutual aid can convert prison education programs into key sites of struggle in our work toward PIC abolition."

For more writings by program co-founders Meghan McDowell and Alison Reed, as well as essays and zines on abolition, check out our recently updated Resources. We've made many additions to this page since we last mentioned it in our newsletter, so have a look!
Finally, Casey Guditus, HBB treasurer and IWOC liaison, has informed us of opportunities to engage in solidarity with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a prisoner-led section of the Industrial Workers of the World. We encourage our HBB family to join their mailing list and check out our local Richmond IWOC chapter in order to stay current with their work. We will also be boosting their efforts throughout the spring!

Humanities Behind Bars supports coalition with programs working toward a just world!

As always, stay in the know of upcoming events via our social media platforms, where we will be posting additional opportunities to get involved and sharing mutual aid efforts.

We look forward to building with all of you in 2020!

Toward abolition,


Alison Reed, Program Director & Co-Founder
Meghan Morris, Graduate Research Assistant
Casey Guditus, HBB Treasurer & IWOC Liaison
Danielle Goldstein, Student Justice Coordinator

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