Education in Prison: Michelle Kuo in Conversation with James Forman, Jr., moderated by Zelda Roland and James Jeter of the Yale Prison Education Initiative

Event time: 
Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - 3:30pm to 5:30pm
Location: 
Sterling Law Buildings (SLB), 120 See map
127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

Join the Yale Prison Education Initiative at Dwight Hall in welcoming Michelle Kuo, author of “Reading With Patrick,” in a conversation with James Forman, Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Locking Up Our Own,” about education and prison.

The conversation will be moderated by Zelda Roland, Director of YPEI, and James Jeter, Tow Foundation Fellow at YPEI.

You can obtain a free ebook copy of “Reading With Patrick” by filling out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/y0iWI7DbZZ4ocjAi2

ABOUT READING WITH PATRICK
Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize • “In all of the literature addressing education, race, poverty, and criminal justice, there has been nothing quite like Reading with Patrick.”—The Atlantic

A memoir of the life-changing friendship between an idealistic young teacher and her gifted student, jailed for murder in the Mississippi Delta

Recently graduated from Harvard University, Michelle Kuo arrived in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer, bursting with optimism and drive. But she soon encountered the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America, still disabled by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. In this stirring memoir, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening.

Convinced she can make a difference in the lives of her teenaged students, Michelle Kuo puts her heart into her work, using quiet reading time and guided writing to foster a sense of self in students left behind by a broken school system. Though Michelle loses some students to truancy and even gun violence, she is inspired by some such as Patrick. Fifteen and in the eighth grade, Patrick begins to thrive under Michelle’s exacting attention. However, after two years of teaching, Michelle feels pressure from her parents and the draw of opportunities outside the Delta and leaves Arkansas to attend law school.

Then, on the eve of her law-school graduation, Michelle learns that Patrick has been jailed for murder. Feeling that she left the Delta prematurely and determined to fix her mistake, Michelle returns to Helena and resumes Patrick’s education even as he sits in a jail cell awaiting trial. Every day for the next seven months they pore over classic novels, poems, and works of history. Little by little, Patrick grows into a confident, expressive writer and a dedicated reader galvanized by the works of Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Walt Whitman, W. S. Merwin, and others. In her time reading with Patrick, Michelle is herself transformed, contending with the legacy of racism and the questions of what constitutes a “good”life and what the privileged owe to those with bleaker prospects.

Open to: 
undergraduate