This September is the 40th Anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion. In September 1971, the nation was transfixed as journalists and photographers documented the unfolding tragedy at Attica Prison. Americans followed the events on television and when Nelson Rockefeller ordered state troopers to retake control of the prison, he unleashed a massacre. At the end of the episode, 43 people were dead, including 32 prisoners and 11 hostages.
At the core of the rebellion were the prisoners’ 28 demands for changes in prison policy including better medical care, better food, and more educational programs. The prisoners offered a statement of their beliefs to the public which included these words:
“WE are MEN! We are not beasts and do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison populace has set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization and disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and throughout the United States.”
This September, Project NIA will commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion by curating a photographic exhibit, organizing a reading, co-sponsoring a film screening and creating a primer on the uprising.
We will partner once again with Mess Hall to display the photographs from September 6th to the 8th. More information about dates and events will be forthcoming.
Here’s how you can help with this project:
1. Create a zine about the Attica Rebellion and send it to us so that we can make it available to community members this September. Send us your zine by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail to 1530 West Morse Ave, Chicago IL 60626. Deadline: August 15th 2011.
Some key questions that you might consider include (but are not limited to):
1. Why and How did the Attica Uprising Happen? This question lends itself to creating timelines etc…
2. Who Were The Key Characters in the Attica Story? Here you might submit short biographical sketches of key players in the uprising (both inside and outside the prison).
3. How Did The Media Cover the Incident At the Time? A content analysis of the way that the incident was covered would be great.
4. How was the incident covered by community-based organizations? If anyone has access to old newsletters or pamphlets from local groups who supported the prisoners, it would be great to write about how they covered the story.
5. Why or How is Attica relevant in the 21st century?