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From its inception, the movement to shape Rikers’ future has always demanded public recognition of its past.  From the start of the #CLOSErikers campaign, Freedom AgendaCreate Forward, and the Humanities Action Lab (HAL), through its States of Incarceration project, strategically partnered to use history and memory to propel the movement forward. Now that Mayor de Blasio, an independent commission, and a growing number of New Yorkers have called for Rikers Island to be closed, Freedom Agenda, Create Forward, and HAL are exploring ways to ensure that Rikers is not forgotten and its memory is shaped by those who were detained there, their families, and their communities.
Making the closure of Rikers a reality and ensuring that its essential problems are never repeated, in New York City or elsewhere, requires powerful acts of imagination that illuminate the realities of the past and present while creating a more equitable vision for the future.
While the immediate aim of the Rikers Public Memory project is to support the important campaign to close Rikers Island, this is just the beginning of an ongoing and dynamic process that uses public memory in pursuit of reparative justice for the communities that bear the mounting cost of mass incarceration.
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