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Integrative Learning: Justice: FOCUS:13th

Seattle Central’s Integrative Learning Community in Justice provides an opportunity for participants from different disciplines to explore and discuss issues related to inequities in the nation’s justice system.

The 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Watch 13th: From Slave to Criminal with One Amendment

Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay's examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country's history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America. This piercing, Oscar-nominated film won Best Documentary at the Emmys, the BAFTAs and the NAACP Image Awards.

Ava DuVernay

                                         color portrait of Ava DuVernay 

Winner of the Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody Awards, Academy award nominee Ava DuVernay is a writer, director, producer and film distributor. Her directorial work includes the historical drama SELMA, the criminal justice documentary 13TH, and Disney’s A WRINKLE IN TIME, Other projects include: WHEN THEY SEE US, based on the infamous case of The Central Park Five; critically-acclaimed TV series QUEEN SUGAR, and upcoming OWN series CHERISH THE DAY.

 DuVernay amplifies the work of people of color and women of all kinds through her non-profit film collective ARRAY, named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies. DuVernay sits on the advisory board of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and chairs the Prada Diversity Council. She is based in Los Angeles, California.

[source: adapted from Ava DuVernay]

Synopsis

The title of Ava DuVernay's extraordinary and galvanizing documentary refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States." The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. With a potent mixture of archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis. [source: Netflix]

Quotes

People say all the time, ‘Well, I don’t understand how people could have tolerated slavery. How could they have made peace with that? How could people have gone to a lynching and participated in that? That’s so crazy. If I was living at that time I would never have tolerated anything like that.’ And the truth is we are living in this time, and we are tolerating it.”
-
Bryan Stevenson

I believe in fortification and I believe that at this time, we should be fortifying ourselves through knowledge, through self-care, through community. All of these speak through art. It’s really about rallying around this moment and taking in a totality of what it is, and making it internal in whatever way that means to you. If you know all this stuff, great. Pass it on. If you don’t know it, know it. You need to know it. Because at this point, after you see 13th, silence in this case is consent. You know all of this. You’re a forward-thinking person, you care about it. You can’t just walk out into the night after you see the movie or put down your iPad after you see it on Netflix and do nothing about it.”
- Ava DuVernay

Context

What is an Integrative Learning Project?

  • Students from different classes and academic disciplines come together to view a selected film. 13th is this year's selection that presents ideas, concerns, and solutions related to JUSTICE.
  • Student discussion circles expand learning through an exchange of multiple perspectives about the intersecting issues of the JUSTICE theme gained from the film, their classes, and their communities.
  • Students respond to the experience with research papers, presentations, and other assignments to share what they learned.