Social Justice Reading Series to feature Reginald Dwayne Betts

OLLU’s MA/MFA program in Literature, Creative Writing and Social Justice welcomes poet and memoirist Reginald Dwayne Betts as part of the “Social Justice Reading Series,” on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m., in Thiry Auditorium.

Betts is the author of three books, “Bastards of the Reagan Era,” “Shahid Reads His Own Palm,” and “A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Surviving and Coming of Age in Prison.”

At 16, Betts participated in a carjacking that landed him a nine-year prison sentence. During this time, he discovered the power of language through books, poetry and his own pen.

Betts will share not only his transformative tale from prisoner to scholar, poet, Yale Law graduate and practicing attorney, but also use his experiences to speak to important issues surrounding the American criminal justice system and read poetry inspired by that experience.

The national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, Betts writes and lectures about the impact of mass incarceration on American society. A powerful and inspirational speaker, Betts is an important voice and advocate for juvenile justice and prison reform. His own experiences as a teenager in maximum security prisons uniquely position him to speak to the failures of the current criminal justice system and present encouraging ideas for change. His advocacy work led President Barack Obama to appoint him to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Betts’ writing has generated national attention and earned him a Soros Justice Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Ruth Lily Fellowship, an NAACP Image Award, PEN New England Award, and most recently, a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship.

This event is hosted by the OLLU English Program, OLLU Office of Global and Strategic Initiatives, OLLU Center for Women in Church and Society, the OLLU Worden Social Work Organization and My Brother’s Keeper—San Antonio.

The reading is free and open to the public.

This reading is made possible in part with grants from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Shield Ayers Foundation.