“Preparing for the Great Incarceration” Powerpoint (accompanies the audio recording but is not synced to the audio)
Joe Austin, Associate Professor, UWM Dept. of History, presented “Preparing for the Great Incarceration: The Criminalization of African American Youth 1940-1970″ on October 16, 2014 in the Fourth Floor Conference Center of the UWM Golda Meir Library.
“Preparing for the Great Incarceration” presented a “pre-history” of the current Great Incarceration (the disproportionate and rising rate of African Americans imprisonment) by situating it within a longer history of white fears of black crime, particularly the sensationalized reporting of African American criminal acts within US newspapers.
The project approaches questions of social justice surrounding this development historically by examining more than 20,000 news stories about African American youth that appeared on the front pages of eight major U.S. newspapers between 1940 and 1970.
Showing that major newspaper reporting disproportionately “criminalized” African American youths during the three decades before 1970, it suggests that most US citizens may have expected the Great Incarceration, and thus the rising rates of incarceration were comforting, even though they bore little to no relationship with the actual crime rates of the period.
This was the 45th presentation of the Morris Fromkin Memorial Lecture, the longest-running lecture series at UWM.