From a leading prison abolitionist, a moving memoir about coming of age in Brooklyn and surviving incarceration.
About this Event
Marlon Peterson grew up in 1980s Crown Heights, raised by Trinidadian immigrants. Amid the routine violence that shaped his neighborhood, Marlon became a high-achieving and devout child, the specter of the American dream opening up before him. But in the aftermath of immense trauma, he participated in a robbery that resulted in two murders. At nineteen, Peterson was charged and later convicted. He served ten long years in prison. While incarcerated, Peterson immersed himself in anti-violence activism, education, and prison abolition work.
In Bird Uncaged, Peterson challenges the typical "redemption" narrative and our assumptions about justice. With vulnerability and insight, he uncovers the many cages--from the daily violence and trauma of poverty, to policing, to enforced masculinity, and the brutality of incarceration--created and maintained by American society.
Marlon Peterson is the principal of The Precedential Group, a social justice consulting firm. He is host of the Decarcerated Podcast, a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and a 2015 recipient of the Soros Justice Fellowship. Ebony Magazine has named him one of America's 100 most influential and inspiring leaders in the Black community. His TED Talk, Am I not human? a call for criminal justice reform, has over 1.2 million views. He contributed to Kiese Laymon's How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin's How We Fight White Supremacy. His writing has appeared in Ebony, The Nation, USA Today, Colorlines, and more. A graduate of New York University, he lives in Brooklyn and plays the steelpan during the summer.
Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. She is the author of 6 books, including the critically acclaimed Breathe: A Letter to my Sons and the award winning: Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem. Perry's creative nonfiction work has appeared in publications such as the Atlantic, The Paris Review, The New York Times, and she frequently provides commentary for documentaries on Black history, art and culture. Perry holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Harvard University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center and a BA from Yale College. She currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her two sons.
[Originally published on April 27, 2021 via Politics and Prose]