signature theatre


Stories of Scottsboro Today

A Discussion on Criminal Justice Reform

June 24, 2018


The Robeson Room
Busboys and Poets, Shirlington
FREE, No Reservation Required

The Scottsboro trials inspired a generation of Civil Rights activists, and the injustices these nine young men faced still resonate in the era of Black Lives Matter and the fight for a fair and effective criminal justice system. Join us on Sunday, June 24 for a panel discussion about the impact of the Scottsboro trials and the state of the American criminal justice system today. The panel discussion will feature Dr. James Goodman, writer of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Stories of Scottsboro, Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, and Nicole Porter, Director of Advocacy for The Sentencing Project. Dr. Tawyna Pettiford-Wates, Artistic Director of The Conciliation Project, will moderate the panel.

Dr. James Goodman is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, history professor and author of Stories of Scottsboro, a definitive narrative history about the Scottsboro case and controversy written from many different points of view. He has been a fellow of Princeton University’s Shelby Cullom Davis Center and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and he currently teaches in the Rutgers University Department of History.

Marc Mauer is one of the country’s leading experts on sentencing policy, race and the criminal justice system. He has directed programs on criminal justice policy reform for 30 years, and is the author of some of the most widely-cited reports and publications in the field. He is currently the executive director of The Sentencing Project, an organization that promotes reforms in sentencing policy, addresses unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocates for alternatives to incarceration.

Nicole D. Porter manages The Sentencing Project’s state and local advocacy efforts on sentencing reform, voting rights, and eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Porter was named a “New Civil Rights Leader” by Essence Magazine in November 2014 for her work to eliminate mass incarceration. Since joining The Sentencing Project in 2009, Porter’s work has been cited in several major media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, and National Public Radio. She has given a number of talks on state sentencing policy, collateral consequences, and racial disparity to various audiences including the League of Women Voters, NAACP, and the United Methodist Women’s Assembly.

Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates is a playwright, director, actor, poet, writer, teacher, and Artistic Director of The Conciliation Project. She has appeared with the Tony Award®-winning company of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / when the rainbow is enuf” performing in both the National and International Touring Companies. Her television, film, industrial, voiceover and commercial credits are extensive, directing and performing at most of the major theatres in Seattle where she spent 23 years before accepting a position at VCU.

This discussion will take place at the Shirlington location of Busboys and Poets, across the street from Signature Theatre.