Screening of doc on new approach to end mass incarceration


Photo Credit: senorjackson

Richard Edmond-Vargas, a nationally-recognized criminal justice reformer, will be in Charlottesville to present two screenings of The Feminist on Cellblock Y, a CNN documentary about Success Stories, the feminist program he co-founded in prison to help incarcerated men unlearn toxic masculinity—the idea that men must be tough, unemotional, and dominant to have worth.

Audience Q&A will follow each screening.

The two Charlottesville events, part of a mid-Atlantic tour (Washington D.C. and Baltimore to follow), are free and open to the public:

  • Friday, Oct. 11, 3-5pm, UVA Law School, Room WB101
  • Friday, Oct. 11, 6-8pm, Sojourners UCC, 1017 Elliott Avenue

Edmond-Vargas grew up in Southern California as an artsy, nerdy kid interested in music and community organizing. But he also lived in a culture that instructed him to “be a man” – to never show vulnerability or weakness. At the age of 19, the preschool where he worked was defunded, and instead of asking for help, he and some friends robbed a couple gas stations. They were caught, and, as teenagers, found themselves in a courtroom facing 150-year sentences; he ultimately pleaded to a 10-year sentence. He came home after seven years due to Proposition 57, a California law he helped pass.

While in prison, Edmond-Vargas began reading feminist literature, by writers like bell hooks, and saw that hyper-masculinity was the root cause of much of the violence and destruction around him. He co-founded Success Stories in 2014, and hundreds of men have since gone through the program. The California State Assembly recognized the program for its innovative approach, and CNN produced The Feminist on Cellblock Y to share the story of the program in-depth. The program is now being adopted in other prisons.

Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, features Edmond-Vargas in a chapter of her book When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir and has said of him “Richard set up [Success Stories] to amplify conversations about patriarchy and its toxicity, and its impact on men and boys, and it was brilliant… everything he explores, every conversation he has, has a sincerity to it… nothing is inauthentic.”

In addition to his work with Success Stories, Edmond-Vargas is the co-founder of Initiate Justice, a nonprofit with 20,000 incarcerated members that organizes people impacted by incarceration to change state law in California. He also started a social-impact record label called Question Culture, and has written articles for CNN and the Playboy Symposium.

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