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University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus

University of Colorado Denver, Newsroom

Common Community READ selection highlights social justice

Program open to university students, faculty and staff

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

​By Amanda Heersink | University Communications

DENVER and Aurora, Colo. - The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander is the book of choice for this year’s Common Community READ (research, education, activism and diversity) program. The book focuses on the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States which has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and subsequently relegated to a second-classes status.

This Common Community READ program is open to all students, faculty and staff across both the Denver Campus and Anschutz Medical Campus.

Alexander is a civil rights lawyer turned legal scholar who demonstrates that although Jim Crow laws were eliminated decades ago in the U.S., it is still legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in almost the same way it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Alexander has said, “We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Again this year, the Common Community READ program is being sponsored by the Anschutz Medical Campus Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Student and Community Counseling Center.

So far, nearly 100 participants have signed up this year. The first 150 participants who register will get a free copy of the book.

Dominic Martinez, director for the Anschutz Medical Campus Office of Diversity and Inclusion, recently talked about this year's selection of The New Jim Crow, “Last year’s results from the first Common READ survey suggested that our campus community wanted to engage in social justice literature that incorporates aspects of health, social-economic and educational disparities. For that reason, we felt that Michelle Alexander’s book confronts these issues openly.”

Last year's choice was "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."  Author Rebecca Skloot's book introduces the reader to Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer in the 1950s who's cells were taken and reproduced without her knowledge. is not widely known, but scientists know her as HeLa.

Again this year, there will be multiple meeting times and locations to engage with the CU community on this book including panels and small book group discussions. The main discussion and guest speaker will be on February 22 in the Lawrence Street Center.

Smaller book club-style meetings are set for Feb. 8 and 15. 
To pick up a copy of The New Jim Crow, visit the Student and Community Counseling Center on the downtown campus or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on the Anschutz Medical Campus.