UK Happenings

Women Writers Conference Presents Public Events on Race and Mass Incarceration

artwork form documentary "13th"
headshot photo of Melynda Price

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 24, 2017) In the wake of the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Kentucky Women Writers Conference continues doing its part to advance dialogue, education and understanding about race and violence here in America through its Sonia Sanchez Series. As part of the series, the conference will present a screening this weekend of the critically acclaimed documentary “13th,” which explores questions of race and mass incarceration, and a few weeks later the Sonia Sanchez Lecture by University of Kentucky law and African-American and Africana studies scholar Melynda J. Price will occur during the September conference. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Now more than ever, our community of readers, writers, scholars and citizens need programming like the Sonia Sanchez Series. We hope you will join us for these important events,” said Julie Wrinn, director of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference.

Since 2005, the Sonia Sanchez Series has honored the indelible spirit of the poet and her many visits to the neighborhoods of Lexington by bringing a major thinker whose writing impacts black culture and social justice issues. The chosen speaker participates in the Kentucky Woman Writers Conference and gives a keynote address, free and open to the community.

This year that speaker will be Melynda J. Price, the Robert E. Harding Jr. Associate Professor of Law at UK College of Law and director of the African American and Africana Studies Program in its College of Arts and Sciences. Price was named a University Research Professor for the 2017–18 academic year by the UK Board of Trustees, in recognition of her outstanding achievements in more than 10 years of research at UK Law on race and citizenship, the politics of punishment, and the role of law in the politics of race and ethnicity in the United States and at its borders.

Price is the author of “At the Cross: Race, Religion, and Citizenship in the Politics of the Death Penalty” (Oxford University Press, 2015), and her work has been published in both peer-reviewed social science and law journals, newspapers, and literary journals.

The Sonia Sanchez Series is chaired by Patrice K. Muhammad, founder and editor of The Key Newsjournal, serving Central Kentucky’s black community since 2004, and host of the syndicated talk radio program “Key Conversations.” Together with committee members Asha French and Shawntaye Hopkins, Muhammad will host a film screening and conversation Aug. 27 and the Sonia Series keynote address Sept. 14. Both events will address the history of race and mass incarceration in America.

This weekend, the Sonia Sanchez Series will present a screening of the Academy Award-nominated documentary film “13th” on race and mass incarceration that traces the liberation of slaves by the 13th Amendment signed on Jan. 31, 1865, to the convict leasing that followed, to the Jim Crow system of apartheid, to the FBI’s war against black activism, to today’s rampant incarceration of largely poor black men. Directed by Ava DuVernay, who also directed the Academy Award-nominated feature film “Selma,” “13th” opened the 2016 New York Film Festival. Doors open at 1 p.m., and the screening will begin 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, in Room A (lower level) of the Lexington Public Library-Central Branch, located at 140 East Main St. A discussion will follow the film. The film running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes and is also available on Netflix. Anyone who has previously seen the film is welcome to join a discussion afterwards at 3:30 p.m.

Next month, the Sonia Sanchez Lecture featuring Melynda Price will open the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. Price’s talk, focused on race and the politics of the death penalty, will begin 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, located at 251 W. 2nd St.

Now in its 39th year, the Kentucky Women Writers Conference is an annual event known for bringing notable women writers to Lexington for readings, writing workshops and discussions. A program housed in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, the conference is made possible in part by continued community partnerships, including its primary venue, the Carnegie Center. Registration for the conference, running Sept. 15-16, is currently open.