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ESPHS Convenes Conversation on Civil Rights Movements within Prisons

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site Launches “Justice 101” with Conversation on Civil Rights Movements within Prisons

January 10, 2024

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site (ESPHS) invites learners of all ages to join its inaugural Justice 101 program on Zoom on Friday, January 19 at 12:00 p.m. ET. Attendees embark on a thought-provoking exploration of the powerful intersection between civil disobedience and imprisonment as catalysts for social change.

The inaugural program, titled Conversation on Civil Rights Movements within Prisons, explores the complexities of civil disobedience as a force for transformative social change. By immersing attendees in historical and contemporary narratives, ESPHS aims to spark discussions on the efficacy and ethics of civil disobedience, the role of imprisonment in social movements, and the enduring impact on individuals and society.

The January 19 program, hosted by Eastern State's President & CEO Kerry Sautner and featuring special guest Professor Hasan Jeffries, delves into two pivotal explorations of this topic— Civil Rights Leaders who were imprisoned, and incarcerated individuals as civil rights champions—examining how acts of dissent and the consequences of imprisonment have shaped historical and contemporary efforts for justice and equality.

"As we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, we reflect on his teaching that civil disobedience is instrumental in the fight for civil rights," says Dr. Kerry Sautner, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site President & CEO. "Sixty years later, we must still ask ourselves, is our criminal justice system fair? Is it just? This program invites us to explore leaders in the Civil Rights Movement -- inside and outside of prison -- who've fought for a more just society, and consider their impact on prisons today."

Justice 101: Conversation on Civil Rights Movements within Prisons takes place Friday, January 19, 12:00 p.m. ET on Zoom. The program is free and open to all. For more information and to register, visit

About Professor Hasan Jeffries:
Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Ph.D., teaches, researches, and writes about the African American experience from a historical perspective. He has chronicled the civil rights movement in the ten episode Audible Original series “Great Figures of the Civil Rights Movement,” and has told the remarkable story of the original Black Panther Party in Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, which has been praised as “the book historians of the black freedom movement have been waiting for.”

An associate professor of history in the Department of History at The Ohio State University, Hasan takes great pride in opening students’ minds to new ways of understanding the past and the present. Hasan also regularly shares his expertise on African American history and contemporary Black politics through public lectures, op-eds, and interviews with print, radio, and television news outlets.

About Justice 101:
Justice 101 is a new series by the Center for Justice Education at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. Each virtual program examines the history of the justice system in America, from its founding to today, and the impact it has on society, citizens, and the world.

Once a month, Eastern State staff invite special guests to foster dialogue about a different topic in criminal justice. Justice 101 programs are free, take place virtually via Zoom, and last 45 minutes: a 30-minute program followed by a 15-minute Q&A. Guests can tune in live, or watch the programs back anytime on YouTube.

Upcoming Justice 101 Programs:

“We are excited to embark on a new year at Eastern State Penitentiary with new programs, conversations, and ways to engage in civil dialogue around important and challenging topics,” says Dr. Kerry Sautner, President and CEO. “Justice 101 bolsters our growing reputation as the nation’s leading criminal justice museum and offers a new way for people across the globe to learn more about these critical issues impacting us all.”

Justice 101 is designed for learners of all ages. For more information, visit

About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site:
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site interprets the legacy of American criminal justice reform, from the nation’s founding through to the present day, within the long-abandoned cellblocks of the nation’s most historic prison.

Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells held approximately 85,000 people during its 142 years of operation, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is open for tours year-round. Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; award-winning exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.

In recent years, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has been awarded the prestigious Excellence in Exhibitions award by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the nation’s highest award in exhibition development and design, for its exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration, as well as the Institutional Award for Special Achievement from the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and the Trustee Emeritus Award for Stewardship from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The LEAD Fellowship, formerly called The Returning Citizens Tour Guide Project, has won the EdCom Award for Innovation in Museum Education by the American Alliance of Museums.

For more information, visit and follow Eastern State Penitentiary on Facebook, Instagram, X, Threads, and Tik Tok.


Post This!
New series #Justice101 from @EasternState Penitentiary launches this Friday at noon with a conversation about civil rights movements in prisons, ft. special guest @ProfJeffries. Learn more and register for this #free #JusticeEd program at


2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner