May 29, 2013
Dear Members of the Class of 2017,
As president of Tulane University, I am happy to extend an enthusiastic welcome to the class of 2017. At Tulane, the opportunities to learn and to engage with the world around you will not be restricted to the classroom. Each year we ask the entering class to read an acclaimed novel or work of non-fiction to frame their first year experience; we call it the Tulane Reading Project. This year’s book is The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by acclaimed author and activist Michelle Alexander.
This national bestseller has been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities nationwide. In the book, Alexander challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness, and argues that, with the contemporary U.S. criminal justice system, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” These issues have an even greater significance here in Louisiana, which Alexander acknowledges as the "incarceration capital of the world," and in New Orleans, where it was recently reported that one in every fourteen black males in the city has either been placed in prison, on probation, or is on parole.
No matter what your academic interests, I am confident that you will find The New Jim Crow to be a compelling read, and that you will look forward to the opportunity to discuss it with your fellow students this fall.
Free copies of the book will be distributed to all students attending the June orientation sessions. In July, we will mail the book to those of you who were unable to visit campus in June.
This fall, we will offer a series of events exploring The New Jim Crow and the themes that it addresses. We especially look forward to welcoming author Michelle Alexander for our keynote lecture on Wednesday, October 2. Be sure to check your email for an invitation to join online discussions about the book, moderated by Tulane faculty. Please also visit the Events and Activities page on the Reading Project website for a schedule of events, which will be updated throughout the summer as additional events are scheduled. And check the Materials and Resources page for additional materials pertinent to the book, such as guidelines for discussion and other web-based resources.
I hope that you will enjoy reading The New Jim Crow before you arrive on campus. The Tulane community looks forward to meeting each of you in August and engaging with you in your first intellectual experience as Tulane students. Enjoy the rest of your summer.
Scott S. Cowen
Newcomb-Tulane College Programs, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5728 firstname.lastname@example.org