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One Book One Northwestern: Just Mercy

Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption is the One Book One Northwestern reading selection for the 2020-2021 school yearJust Mercy follows Stevenson through the beginning of his career as a lawyer devoted to seeking justice for those who have already been treated unfairly by the judicial system. Stevenson’s book has prompted a national reckoning with how racism and poverty have so often marred American society.

One Book One Northwestern is a community‐wide reading program hosted by the Office of the President. It aims to engage the campus in a common conversation centered on a carefully chosen, thought-provoking book

The Block Museum is proud to partner with the One Book program for a year of programming and art that explores the themes of this shared text.

"Perhaps now more than ever, Stevenson’s voice needs to be heard. The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and other Black Americans at the hands of police violence have ignited a global reckoning with America’s pernicious investment in policing, criminalization, and incarceration. The failure to adequately address the COVID-19 crisis, especially as it devastated vulnerable communities, including prison populations, revealed the nation’s prioritizing of some lives over others. But Stevenson calls us forward to a better, fairer world—one that is more just in being more merciful."

Jennifer Lackey,  Director of the Northwestern Prison Education Program, the Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University,

Screening Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project: Picturing "The Long Term"


Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project: Picturing "The Long Term"
Film Screening and Panel Discussion
September 24, 2020, 7PM CST
Free and Open to All, Online

(Various Artists, 2018, USA, digital, 13 mins hand-drawn animation)

Since 2011, the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project has brought artists, educators, and activists together with incarcerated individuals at Illinois’ Stateville Correctional Center. 

Through classes, workshops, and exhibitions, PNAP creates opportunities for learning across prison walls, connecting those inside with the tools and resources needed to creatively communicate their concerns to the larger Chicago community. 

This event highlights one such initiative: The Long Term (2016-2018), a series of works created around the issue of long-term sentencing policies and their impacts. This screening presents moving-image works generated by this project, including The Long Term (2018, 13 min), a hand-drawn animated film made by artists serving extended sentences, as well as testimonials from people impacted by long sentences. Following the films, members of the PNAP community will discuss the larger scope of the project, the challenges and rewards of arts and humanities education in state prisons, and the urgent need for sentencing reform today. 

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Teaching "Just Mercy" Through the Block’s Collection

6832.jpgOngoing, Launching Friday, October 16
Free and Open to All, Online

 The Block Museum kicks off its collaboration with One Book One Northwestern by highlighting a selection of artworks from the permanent collection that resonate with themes of the text, such as equity, justice, and mercy. View the works in the museum’s new collection database, learn more about their contexts, and download high-resolution images to support online teaching.

Image: Donna Ferrato, Women Who Kill in Self Defense serve 3 times longer than the Men who Killed their Wives, 1989. Pigment print, 13 3/4 x 20 inches. Collection of The Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, gift of David Kieselstein KGSM '88, 2016.16.10

Mercy in the Museum: Online Collection Tours

12824.jpgFriday, October 23, 12:00-12:30 PM (RSVP)
Friday, November 20, 12:00-12:30 PM (RSVP)
Friday, December 11, 12:00-12:30 PM (RSVP)

Free and Open to All, Online

Join the Block Museum for a series of shared conversations about artworks from the collection that explore ideas of justice, race, and equity. These online, discussion-based lunchtime tours are led by Block staff and inspired by Just Mercy.  This series is presented in conjunction with The Block’s 40th anniversary, a year-long celebration of the Museum’s collection as a tool to help us reflect upon, question, and reimagine the past. 

 Image: Abraham Jacobs, Cell, ca. 1936–42. Aquatint, 23.1 x 17.5 cm. Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University. 1995.54