Apr 28th 2018

Join us for an eventful and meaningful day of activities. Help us make Mother’s Day cards and participate in a letter writing workshop. Learn more about prison abolition work and meet representatives of: Moms United Against Prisons and Incarceration, Chicago Books to Women in Prison, Black & Pink, Prison+Neighborhood Arts Project, the Read/Write Library and the Illinois Deaths in Custody Project. Through this participatory event we’ll create together letters and cards to send warmth and strength to all incarcerated mothers and those who wish to send cards to their mothers in or out of jails and prisons in Illinois.

Also, as part of the event we’ll unveil the Read/Write Library’s special collection of prison abolition materials from various community organizations and activist groups in Chicago. These works will be on display for all to engage as a means to inspire and learn about local resistance against the carceral state from the ground up. All people and families interested in learning to help us raise awareness and solidarity for the rising prison abolition movement are welcome.

This event is coordinated with the tireless effort of the following organizations:

Moms United! is an intergenerational membership based organization that builds the collective strength and power of mothers directly impacted by racial, and economic injustice in Chicago. Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration

Chicago Books to Women in Prison distributes paperback books to incarcerated women. For more than 16 years, the all-volunteer group has provided a critical intervention into an oppressive system by offering the self-empowerment, education and entertainment that reading provides. Volunteers meet every weekend to fulfill requests from women in state and Federal prisons nationwide, as well as in Cook County Jail. They match requests to an inventory of thousands of donated paperback books. Every woman receives three carefully chosen books or a blank journal—free of charge, no strings attached—along with a personal note. In 2017 the group mailed 4,690 packages of books and blank journals—20% more than in 2016. www.chicagobwp.org

Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ and/or HIV+ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing. www.blackandpink.org/

Prison+Neighborhood Arts Project (P+NAP) is a visual arts and humanities project that connects teaching artists and scholars to men at Stateville Maximum Security Prison through classes, workshops and guest lectures. Classes offered include subjects ranging from poetry, visual arts, and film study to political theory, social studies, and history. Classes are held once a week, on a 14 week semester schedule. Each course results in finished projects—visual art, creative writing and critical essays—with specific audiences and neighborhoods in mind. These works are then exhibited and read in neighborhood galleries and cultural centers. p-nap.org/

Read/Write Library collects, preserves, and provides accesss to community media in order to inspire and promote diverse modes of cultural production and civic engagement. We strive to raise the visibility of work produced by Chicagoans of all backgrounds in order to reveal connective threads across neighborhoods, generations, and cultures and to encourage inquiry into and ownership of the historical record. The Library recognizes the contributions that all community members make to co-creating a city and believes that learning to value these stories plays a vital role in building empathy, community pride, and the ability to see oneself as a change agent. www.readwritelibrary.org

Illinois Deaths in Custody Project (IDCP) seeks to document, archive, highlight, and mourn those who have lost their lives while in custody. Very little care or attention is given to someone once they are charged with even the smallest crime and the health care provided to prisoners does not meet the standards deserved by every human life. Through various methods of research conducted by University of Illinois students, alumni and faculty, as well as faculty from Northeastern University, the IDCP works to acknowledge the deaths of individuals in custody and hold Illinois accountable. We strive for transparency and to help teach the public about information to which they are legally entitled through informative discussion and practice. www.ildeathsincustody.org

IDCP thanks the UIC Civic Engagement Research Fund Award, the UIC Dean’s Research Prize, the Illinois Humanities for past funding; and the Propeller Fund as well as all of our participants and supporters to help bring this event possible.

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