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Common Read at CC 2021-22

This guide accompanies the book for CC's Common Read Program.

Race Riots

Chapter 1 discusses the ongoing legacy of the Camden, New Jersey Riots (1969 and 1971).

Hispanic residents took to the streets and called for the suspension of white police officers involved in and following the death of a Puerto Rican motorist. On August 20, 1971 riots erupted and fifteen fires were set, 90 people were injured.

Drug Use and Crime Policies

Chapter 2 discusses how "the lives of black people were negatively impacted by policies emerging during the Reagan era, from mandatory sentencing to the "war on drugs."

A Brief History of the Drug War from the Drug Policy Alliance

Reagan's National Drug Strategy from Omeka Beta Service

Chapter 5 takes a look at Clinton's Violent Crime Control and Law enfrocement Act of 1994

"Strung-out men and women and street savvy pushers were more obvious problems than the criminal masterminds in power behind the scenes like the mayor and police offices, profiting from the war they waged to supposedly end drug proliferation in our city." (p.121)

Milton Milan sentenced to 7 years (Camden Civil Rights Project)


Chapter 3 looks at the impact of standardized testing, finances and politics of schooling
"While I was a student, the state of New Jersey was forced to recognize that its public education system willfully disadvantaged those of us who lived in poor urban districts." p 72

Camden Crime

"The negative portrayals of Camden and the black people who lived there, which pointed to the problems that seems to undermine any potential for good in Camden, always upheld the black and Latino inhabitants as the source of the violence and poverty plaguing the city. But that is a misguided and ahistorical idea. We were never the problem. The entrenched interlocking systems of antiblack racism, economic disinvestment, and pollitical exploitation ravaging Camden and its black and Latino residents were the sparks always smoking..."  p27

(Camden County Police Department)