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New Book by Professor Donald Tibbs Explores Black Power and the Prisoners’ Rights Movement

January 10, 2012

Professor Donald F. Tibbs’ book, “From Black Power to Prison Power: The Making of Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners’ Labor Union,” has been published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Focusing on the case Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, the book examines prison inmates’ strategic use of race and radicalism to launch a labor union. By exploring the historic context in which the black power movement emerged, the book rekindles the debate over this phenomenon as a platform for influencing legal policy and effecting change for inmates.

The book has received accolades from other legal scholars:

“’From Black Power to Prison Power’ feels stunningly new—a book about a prison union, which most of us know absolutely nothing about, even though their case traveled all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 1977. Donald F. Tibbs plumbs the deep history of black power, especially as it relates to criminal justice. He goes back decades before the North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union lawsuit to put it into the context of the emergence of black power, a movement of national and even global dimensions. Legal history has rarely been so exciting,” Alfred L. Brophy, Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“Donald F. Tibbs has written one of the best examinations of the power of seemingly powerless people to organize, dissent, and secure their rights. This is an extraordinary book that should be read widely and regarded as a must read for anyone interested in the prisoners' rights movement,” Matthew Whitaker, ASU Foundation Professor of History and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, Arizona State University.

Tibbs, who joined the faculty in 2008, teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Critical Race Theory. In 2011, he received the Dean Jennifer L. Rosato Excellence in the Classroom Award and launched a new course and lecture series on Hip Hop and the American Constitution.