2017 EnRICHment/RARI Speakers
The EnRICHment Program supports the Rhode Island Center for the Book’s highly successful Reading Across Rhode
Island (RARI) program—the annual statewide community read, made possible through a vibrant collaboration of
librarians, teachers, artists, book group leaders, and readers.
Speakers participate in lectures and workshops on topics and themes related to each year’s book selection. This year’s
program features scholars, artists, lawyers, and nonprofit advocates who will expand on the themes of Just Mercy by
Bryan Stevenson. Speakers are available to be booked by libraries, schools, book clubs, businesses, community
organizations, social clubs, and everything in between.
For more information about the program, or to book a speaker, visit the Council’s website at
http://rihumanities.org/program/enrichment-opportunities/ or call Kate Lentz, Director of the RICftB at 401-273-2250.
Living Literature is a collective of RI-based performing artists, who have been
celebrating the written word through readers-theatre style performances of
non-dramatic literature since its inception in January of 1996. Living Literature
has created and performed over 100 presentations based on poems, stories,
novels, plays, essays, biographies, articles, and oral histories at libraries,
schools, and other community venues across southeastern New England. Since
2009, Living Literature has created programs for Reading Across Rhode
Island, the signature program of the Rhode Island Center for the Book at the
Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.
Living Literature’s presentation of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, explores the human dynamics of the poor, wrongly
condemned individuals, trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system, and those who struggle to help
them. The presentation is intended for both audiences who have, and have not, read the book.
Steven Brown is Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of
Rhode Island, serving in that capacity for over twenty-five years. During his
tenure, the ACLU of RI has been active in courts and legislature procedures
promoting criminal justice reform, including organizing opposition to
reinstatement of the death penalty, attacking racial profiling and other forms of
discrimination against people of color, and working to reduce the school-toprison
During his talk, Mr. Brown will explain the meaning and insidious nature of the school-to-prison pipeline in Rhode Island. By
examining and focusing on statewide data on a wide range of topics – from the way students of color are disproportionately
suspended from school from an early age, to the disparate impact of traffic stops, and searches and enforcement of state drug
laws – audiences will be able to understand that the school-to-prison pipeline is not a myth, but a reality that must be
C. Morgan Grefe is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Historical Society. She has been at the RIHS for 12 years,
serving as the Director of the Goff Center for Education and Public Programs for 6.5 of those. In the summer of 2011 she
took the helm of the RIHS. Her work as a historian focuses on U.S. social,
cultural, and public history, with special attention on Rhode Island. She
holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown and a B.A. and M.A.
from the University of Pennsylvania in the same.
While Grefe now concentrates on topics relating to Rhode Island’s social
and cultural history, as well as the history education crisis in our state and
nation, her academic work culminated in a study of historic prison tourism
in the United States. Her dissertation, “Museum of Order: Truth, Politics,
and the Preservation of America’s Prisons,” examined not only the history
of American incarceration, but also the ways in which we remember it and
contextualize it – or not. America’s troubled history of racial injustice is clearly evident in these sites, though it is often
unverbalized, leaving only silent representations of race for the tourist to consume. She has also written, for
the Connecticut History Journal, “Making Prison History Matter: Field Trips and Lessons for History and Civics,” along
with accompanying lesson plans. Grefe’s teaching focus included African-American and ethnic history from the Civil
War to the present.
Dr. Grefe will have two talks available in conjunction with Just Mercy:
• “Social Order and Disorder,” will explore the history of early incarceration in the United States to better
understand how we’ve gotten to the current state of our institutions.
• In “A Ferocious Enemy to Justice: Lynching, Eugenics, and Guinea Pigs in America’s Modern Period,” Grefe
will discuss the types of legal and extralegal violence that have targeted the most vulnerable populations in
America during the 20th century.
Mr. Horton has been working in Rhode Island within the field of criminal justice
reform and prisoner reentry since 2004, when he graduated from Brown
University. He has dedicated his career to ending the cycle of crime and reincarceration,
one law at a time and one person at a time. As Policy Director for
OpenDoors, Norton helped lead the successful campaigns to return the right to
vote to people on probation, to reform court-debt related incarceration, to
decriminalize marijuana, to push back against the over-criminalization of sexworkers,
to expand Drug Court, and to reform the probation revocation system.
Now, as Program Director for the last four years, he founded and runs 9 Yards,
an innovative prisoner reentry program that has cut recidivism by 71%.
Nick Horton’s talk will be an opportunity to experience the ‘power of proximity’ that Bryan Stevenson discusses in his
book, presentations, and media appearances. Mr. Horton will relate some of the personal histories that provided the
impetus for statewide criminal justice reform over the last decade, all of which have led to current efforts to pass the
major Justice Reinvestment Legislative Package. Bryan Stevenson catalyzed these efforts when he visited Rhode Island in
2015 to attend a forum at Roger William University that focused on mass incarceration in the United States. Mr. Horton
will narrate the ongoing campaign that stemmed from that event. He will then present a vision for ending mass
incarceration in Rhode Island, rooted in his experiences working to keep his clients out of prison. His presentations will
include guest speakers who have graduated successfully from the 9 Yards program talking about their own personal
Be sure to check our website (http://rihumanities.org/) and stay tuned as more EnRICHment speakers become
available throughout the spring!