Lisa M. Corrigan, "Prison Power: How Prison Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation" (UP of Mississippi, 2016)


In the black liberation movement, imprisonment emerged as a key rhetorical, theoretical, and media resource. Imprisoned activists developed tactics and ideology to counter white supremacy. Prison Power: How Prison Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation (University Press of Mississippi, 2016) underscores how imprisonment---a site for both political and personal transformation---shaped movement leaders by influencing their political analysis and organizational strategies. Prison became the critical space for the transformation from civil rights to Black Power, especially as southern civil rights activists faced setbacks. Black Power activists produced autobiographical writings, essays, and letters about and from prison beginning with the early sit-in movements. The author conducts rhetorical analyses of these extremely popular though understudied accounts of the Black Power movement. Through prison writings, these activists deployed narrative features supporting certain tenets of Black Power, pride in blackness, disavowal of nonviolence, identification with the Third World, and identity strategies focused on black masculinity. Prison Power fills gaps between Black Power historiography and prison studies by scrutinizing the rhetorical forms and strategies of the Black Power ideology that arose from prison politics. Author Lisa M. Corrigan is an Associate Professor of Communication, Director of the Gender Studies Program, and Affiliate Faculty in both African & African American Studies and Latin American Studies in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas. She earned her B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in Communication and English Literature and both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Political Communication from University of Maryland, College Park. Corrigan is a feminist rhetorical scholar who researches and teaches in the areas of social movement studies, the Black Power and civil rights movements, prison studies, feminist studies, the Cold War, and the history of public address. Her writings and reviews have appeared in numerous academic publications. Prison Power: How Prison Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation is her first book.
James P. Stancil II is an educator, multimedia journalist, and writer. He is also the President and CEO of Intellect U Well, Inc. a Houston-area NGO dedicated to increasing the joy of reading and media literacy in young people. He can be reached most easily through his LinkedIn page or at

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