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Freed activist to discuss life after death row

Mazie Bryant

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In a lecture to The University of Alabama community on Wednesday, Nov. 14, activist Gary Drinkard will convey his personal experience with a place most people hope to never even think about – death row.

The University will host exonerated state death row survivor Drinkard in a lecture titled “The Death Penalty from a Social Justice Perspective” on campus in ten Hoor Hall, Room 111, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Drinkard was sentenced to be executed in 1995 for the murder and robbery of a Decatur, Ala., automotive junk dealer. He was a member of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty while incarcerated at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala. During his lecture, he will be accompanied by Joanne Terrell, a death penalty mitigator and School of Social Work faculty member, to speak to the UA community about his case, life on death row, life after death row and the effects of the death penalty.

The event will be sponsored by the School of Social Work and the UA Arise Citizens’ Policy Project. Alabama Arise is a nonprofit organization that works to create and change policies of the Alabama Legislature for the benefit of vulnerable populations of Alabama, Kimberly Burrow, vice president of the campus chapter of the institution, said.

Previously, the UA chapter of the organization hosted world-renowned scholar Katherine Newman in a lecture about the evolution of taxation in the United States. However, the group decided on the death penalty as the focus of their November event.

“We worked to bring this event to campus because the death penalty is a priority issue of our parent organization in Montgomery,” Burrow said. “We support the repeal of it, because not only is it inhumane, it disproportionately affects poor people and people of color.”

Burrow said the event is important in connecting students to the community around them.

“It is important for students to attend this event to raise their awareness of the inherent problems in the death penalty,” Burrow said. “It’s relevant because students should be involved in the social issues that affect their community.”

Megan Knauss, president of the UA chapter of Alabama Arise, said she hopes the speaker will evoke change from his listeners.

“I think it’s incredibly important for UA students to be informed of important issues – such as the death penalty – that affect both our country and our state, in particular,” Knauss said. “The speech offers students an opportunity to learn about the death penalty from multiple perspectives. We hope that the event will inspire students to learn more about this social issue, which has a significant impact at every level of our society, as well as actions they can take to move our state closer to achieving a moratorium on the death penalty.”

A reception catered by Full Moon Bar-B-Que will follow the lecture.


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Freed activist to discuss life after death row