News Release: Arts and Humanities, Events, Student Life

Jan. 12,  2009

Motherhood in Adversity Is Theme for Events on Atlanta Campuses

Incarcerated mothers exhibits at Emory kick off Atlanta series

Motherhood in the face of adversity is the theme for a series of public events hosted during the next several weeks by Emory University's Race and Difference Initiative and the Atlanta Consortium of Colleges and Universities (ACCU).

The programs, focusing on "Motherhood at the Intersection of Race and Class," open with two traveling art exhibitions by historian and curator Rickie Solinger. They will be on display in the Schatten Art Gallery of Emory's Woodruff Library Jan. 15-March 12. Also scheduled are film screenings, arts performances, panel discussions and an academic conference. The programs will culminate in an appearance by women's rights icon Angela Davis March 24 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

More information on Emory's Race and Difference Initiative Web site

Exhibits at Emory

The first Emory exhibit, "Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States," is comprised of eight linked installation pieces representing a dramatic display of painting, drawing, sculpture and photography that documents the experiences of women incarcerated in the United States. Several of the pieces are from inmates themselves.

"Beggars and Choosers: Motherhood is Not a Class Privilege in America" consists of 60 photographic images challenging the idea that motherhood should be a right accorded only to those who are privileged in society. These images show the complexity of motherhood for women who are considered too young, too poor, too ethnic or otherwise considered "unfit" to be mothers by many in mainstream America.

"These exhibits and series of events provide an opportunity for the Atlanta community to come together to discuss these and related issues," says Esther Jones, race and difference postdoctoral fellow at Emory.

Emory library and exhibition hours

Jones says the series resulted from a chance encounter between Ozzie Harris, vice provost of community and diversity at Emory, and Georgianne Thomas, professor of humanities at Clark Atlanta University, who is affiliated with the ACCU. Harris and Thomas were joined in the effort by Martha Fineman, Woodruff Professor of Law and co-leader of Emory's Race and Difference Initiative.

The Atlanta Consortium of Colleges and Universities (ACCU), comprised of faculty, staff and administrators from several Atlanta area institutions, has developed a wide range of events related to the exhibits' themes that will occur during the run of the exhibits and beyond. The ACCU's aim is to promote dialogue to stimulate continued awareness, discussion and action surrounding the special challenges that less-privileged mothers, families and incarcerated women face.

Calendar of Events

Sunday, Jan. 25

Public Opening/Reception
3-5 p.m., Emory University, Woodruff Library, Jones Room
The Hon. Vanessa Gilmore, a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, who has worked with children of incarcerated mothers and published a coloring book for these children, will speak. Reception to follow. Free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Martha Fineman.

Thursday, Jan. 29

Film Screening: "The Motherhood Manifesto"
7 p.m., Georgia Institute of Technology, Room 300 College of Management
Moving personal stories combined with humorous animation, expert commentary and hilarious old film clips tell the tale of what happens to working mothers and their families in America. See how enlightened employers and public policy can make paid family leave, flexible working hours, part-time parity, universal healthcare, excellent childcare, after-school programs and realistic living wages a reality for American families. Documentary based on the book "The Motherhood Manifesto" by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. Students, faculty and community members are invited to view this documentary and participate in a discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Amy D'Unger.

Thursday, Feb. 12

Film Screening: "What I Want My Words to Do to You"
7 p.m., Georgia Institute of Technology, Room 300 College of Management
The film goes inside a writing workshop led by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, consisting of 15 women, most of whom were convicted of murder. Through a series of exercises and discussions, the women delve into their pasts and explore the nature of their crimes and the extent of their own culpability. The film culminates in an emotionally charged prison performance of the women's writing by acclaimed actors Mary Alice, Glenn Close, Hazelle Goodman, Rosie Perez and Marisa Tomei. Students, faculty, and members of the community are invited to view this film. Free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Amy D'Unger.

Wednesday, Feb. 25

"Yo' Mama's Dysfunktional: The Impact of Single Motherhood on Black Manhood, Futures and Families in the Age of Obama"
7-9 p.m., Morehouse College
A panel discussion that engages specialists from a variety of intellectual and popular fields to discuss the special challenges single mothers face and the outcomes for their children, particularly the raising of black boys to be men. This event is free and open to the public.

Friday, Feb. 27-Saturday, Feb. 28

Feminism & Legal Theory "Incarceration and Human Rights" Workshop
Emory Law School, Gambrell Hall, Room 575
A two-day academic conference that engages scholarship being developed surrounding incarceration and human rights from a legal framework. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Pamela Bridgewater, 404.712.2420

Wednesday, March 4

"A Celebration of Motherhood: The Arts As Activism"
7-9 p.m., Venue TBA
World renowned performing artist and activist Rhodessa Jones of The Medea Project will be the featured speaker and performer in a composite set of performances including student dance, music performance by the choir of the Metro State Women¿s Prison in Atlanta. This event is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Esther Jones, 404.727.7083

Tuesday, March 24

Angela Davis
7-9 p.m., Ebenezer Baptist Church
The civil rights and women¿s rights icon Angela Davis will speak about women, privilege, and prisons in honor of Women's History Month. Since her own imprisonment in 1970 -- and the international "Free Angela Davis" campaign that followed -- Davis has been America's most well-known critic of the prison system. Public reception and book-signing to follow. This event is free and open to the public.

Presented by the Center for Women at Emory and the Emory Department of Women's Studies. Cosponsored by the Jessica Glasser Memorial Lecture Fund, Ali P. Crown, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, Atlanta Consortium of Colleges and Universities, and the following from Emory: Hightower Lecture Fund, Race and Difference Initiative, the Office of Community and Diversity, the Law School, The Presidents Commission on the Status of Women, Feminists in Action, and Emory Alumnae and Women of Emory.

For more information on this event, go to or contact Sasha Smith, 404.727.2001.


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