Human Rights Advocates Discuss Resistance to Mass Incarceration with Foundations of Social Justice Studies Class Thursday, October 31, 2019
“Point Park’s faculty (especially the social justice studies professors) have exposed me to people and organizations I feel compelled to work with. The local events I have been to have ignited something special inside of me, a desire to be an advocate for change in the place I call home.”
Shandre Delaney and Carrington Keys from the Human Rights Coalition recently visited Point Park University’s Foundations of Social Justice Studies class to discuss their advocacy work with incarceration issues and prisoners' rights.
“Carrington finished serving a 19-year sentence a couple years ago, and Shandre, his mother, has been doing this work since he was first locked up as an 18-year-old. They gave a very powerful presentation to our students,” said Robert Ross, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator of the social justice studies program.
Delaney serves as coordinator of the Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign and has been a human and civil rights advocate for 15 years.
Her son was one of the Dallas 6 who used peaceful resistance to counter solitary confinement abuse in prison.
“If society gives you a reason that there is nothing worth living for, that’s what you begin to believe,” Keys told the students.
For Mary Malone, a junior interdisciplinary design major and social justice studies minor, the most inspiring part of the presentation was Keys’ personal story.
“He went into prison early into his adulthood and remained for 19 years. Eleven of those years were spent in solitary confinement. His mother says she was forced to become an activist after receiving letters from him detailing the mistreatment and inhumane conditions inside the prison,” explained Malone, a graduate of Seneca Valley High School in Cranberry Township, Pa.
“In solitary confinement, he was denied food many times and guards ripped up his mail in front of him. He took this pain and mistreatment and turned it into something else when he started sending mail documenting the mistreatment he saw to the Human Rights Coalition and his mother. Now, he works as a paralegal and fights for people’s rights as a human every day. I cannot imagine the pain that he went through and it was inspiring to know that he works hard to end pain for other people now,” she added.
Sophomore multimedia major Tea Gaza describes the presentation as “opening her eyes and mind to the unjust, growing mass incarceration rate of black men in today’s America.”
“Shandre was not only living proof of what advocacy looks like as a person part of a larger, oppressed demographic, but she also was proof to me that change can be accomplished through the strategic organization of solidarity. Everything that Shandre and Carrington touched upon was inspiring and a wake-up call. Coming from a black female perspective, I feel almost obligated to fight for my brothers and sisters who are trapped within these seemingly ‘rehabilitative’ institutions,” said Gaza, a graduate of City-Charter High School in Pittsburgh.
Malone added: “Point Park’s faculty (especially the social justice studies professors) have exposed me to people and organizations I feel compelled to work with. The local events I have been to have ignited something special inside of me, a desire to be an advocate for change in the place I call home.”