Day: August 9, 2011

Attica’s Legacy: A Photographic Exhibition at Mess Hall (September 6-8, 2011)

WE are MEN! We are not beasts and do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison populace has set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization and disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and throughout the United States.” [From the Attica Prisoners’ Declaration of Beliefs]

You are invited to join Project NIA for an exhibition at Mess Hall of photographs about the Attica Prison Rebellion. In September 1971, the nation was transfixed as journalists and photographers documented the unfolding tragedy at Attica Prison. Americans followed the events on television and when Nelson Rockefeller ordered state troopers to retake control of the prison, he unleashed a massacre. At the end of the episode, 43 people were dead, including 32 prisoners and 11 hostages.

At the core of the rebellion were the prisoners’ demands for changes in prison policy including better medical care, better food, and more educational programs.

John Shearer in Front of Attica Prison in 1971

We are privileged to be able to display nine (9) photographs by the great John Shearer as part of the exhibition. Mr. Shearer was the only photographer allowed inside Attica during the assault by New York law enforcement in September. He was also the second African American staff photographer at Life Magazine following Gordon Parks. His work can be viewed HERE. You can also read a blog post by Mr. Shearer about Attica HERE.

Additionally, a collection of original vintage newspaper archive photographs (from Mariame Kaba’s collection) about the Attica Rebellion will also be on display.

Reception & Reading – Thursday, September 8, 2011
Where: Mess Hall, 6932 N. Glenwood Ave.
Time: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Reading from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.)

This event is FREE and OPEN to the public. It is also a youth-friendly space.

The photographic exhibition will be on display from September 6 to September 8. If you are interested in bringing a group to view the photographs during these three days, please contact Mariame Kaba at to make arrangements. We particularly welcome groups of youth.

Download a flyer about the September 8th reading event HERE.