Library and Archives

January 21, 2021

One Read for Racial Justice: Are Prisons Obsolete?

A One Read for Racial Justice Initiative

What is a One Read?

The One Read for Racial Justice, our annual, collaborative, campus-wide initiative that seeks to raise awareness about racial justice issues, create opportunities for dialogues across difference and discipline, and to promote community. If you’re not familiar with a One Read, it’s like a giant book club where we all get together to read a common text and then discuss it as a community and plan other events that help deepen our understanding of the book and its themes.

What book are we reading?

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis

In this book, Angela Davis asks us this provocative and vital question — are prisons obsolete? — but she also forces us to reflect on why our society takes prisons for granted. One in five prisoners worldwide are incarcerated in the US. How did we get to this point? In short but resonant chapters, Davis explores the history of incarceration, its roots in the vile institution of slavery, the gendered dimensions of imprisonment, and the prison industrial complex. Perhaps most importantly, she offers solutions not just for reform, but transformation of our society into one where prisons are obsolete.

How do I participate?

  • Read the book
  • Attend an event
  • Learn more by exploring our resource guide
  • Organize an event or host a discussion
  • Integrate the book into your course/work
  • Join the planning group

Spring 2021 Event Series

This year's One Read for Racial Justice is a joint effort with Dr. Nancy Heitzeg and her Challenging Criminalization, Endowed Chair in the Sciences Series

Thursday, February 11
Women’s Prison Book Project: A student/activist panel
In collaboration with St. Kate's Community Work and Learning

Friday, February 12
Angela Davis and the Black Radical Tradition
To receive a link to this online discussion, RSVP by 4 p.m. Friday, February 12th at
In collaboration with the Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women

Tuesday, February 16
Legacies of Angela Davis: Interdisciplinary perspectives
Register to receive the zoom link here
In collaboration with the Integrated Learning Series

Thursday, February 25
Are Prisons Obsolete? A Conversation with Angela Davis
Register to receive the zoom link here
In collaboration with Dr. Nancy Heitzeg's Challenging Criminalization series

Monday, March 8
Fantasy Cop: A Content Analysis of the Depiction of Police Officers in Young Children’s Books
A presentation by Librarian, Cassandra Hendricks, MLIS '19
Register here

Thursday, April 15
#DefundthePolice: A Conversation with Local Activists
Featuring SooJin Pate (MPD150), D.A. Bullock (Reclaim the Block), and Jael Kerandi (University of MN, former undergraduate student body president)
Click here to register

Want to be more involved in the planning of this and future One Reads for Racial Justice, including helping choose the next One Read for Racial Justice text? Consider joining the planning group. Consider joining the planning group. Email Amy Mars ( or Anne Beschnett ( for more information.