An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections
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  • Resegregated Spaces: The Schools-to-Prisons Pipeline

    Constance Curry, Atlanta, Georgia

    24 June 2005

    After the long years of segregated and inferior "colored" schools, followed by limited desegregation during the 1970s, resegregation is taking place in our public schools, and not only in the South. Increasingly, the failing school systems are feeding young men and women of color into the jails and prisons of the United States in a phenomenon known as the "schools-to-prisons pipeline."


    Resegregated Spaces: The Schools-to-Prisons Pipeline, 2005.

    About the Speaker:

    Born in 1933 to Irish immigrant parents, Constance Curry grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. She graduated from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, where she was president of the student body, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an active member of the National Student Association. After studying in France (1955-1956) as a Fulbright scholar and doing graduate work at Columbia University she was named National Field Representative, Collegiate Council for the United Nations, New York. She returned to Atlanta in 1960 to work as Director of the Southern Student Human Relations Project of the US National Student Association. She served as an advisor on the executive committee of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and from 1964 to 1975, worked as a field representative for the American Friends Service Committee on issues of voter registration, school desegregation, and economic development in the US South. She was Director of the Office of Human Services for the City of Atlanta from 1975 to 1990, and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta, GA in 1984.

    Constance Curry is the author of Silver Rights (1995) which won a Lillian Smith Book Award. Other publications co-authored or edited by Curry include The Fire Ever Burning (2000, with Aaron Henry); Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (2000); Captive Lives (2000); a special issue of the journal Southern Changes focusing upon prisons and prisoners; and Mississippi Harmony: Memoirs of a Freedom Fighter (2002, with Winson Hudson). Curry is also the producer/researcher for the documentary film The Intolerable Burden (2003), about the failure of public education and the fast-track to prison, particularly for young black men. Curry is a Fellow at the Institute for Women's Studies, Emory University.

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    Recommended Resources:


    The Intolerable Burden
    This documentary film, winner of awards from the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, follows the commitment of Mae Bertha Carter and her family of Sunflower County, Mississippi, to obtain a quality education by examining the conditions of segregation prior to 1965, the hardships the family faced during desegregation, and the massive white resistance that led to resegregation.


    The Southern Center for Human Rights
    The Center was created in 1976 to respond to the deplorable conditions in prisons and jails in the South and the United States Supreme Court's decision that year allowing the resumption of capital punishment. Since its creation, the Center has been engaged in litigation, public education, advocacy, and work with other organizations and individuals to protect the civil and human rights of people prosecuted in the criminal courts—particularly those facing the death penalty—and confined in the prisons and jails of the South.

    One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana
    This website features photographic portraits of Louisiana prisoners by Deborah Luster acocompanied by a political and historical background of American prisons by C.D. Wright. Winner of the tenth Lange-Taylor Prize at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies.

    Texas Death Row
    For three weeks in 1994, documentary photographer Ken Light recorded life among almost four hundred condemned prisoners on Death Row in Texas, the state that leads the nation in executions since 1976.

    North Carolina Women's Prison Writing Performance Project
    The NC Women's Prison Writing Performance Project is a not-for-profit project based in the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women.


    Curry, Constance. Silver Rights. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1995.

    Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

    Hudson, Winson and Constance Curry. Mississippi Harmony: Memoirs of a Freedom Fighter. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd., 2002.

    Moye, J. Todd. Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Movements in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1945–1986. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

    Payne, Charles M. I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

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