James Forman Jr. to speak at 2019 commencement

Rebecca Edwards

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Pulitzer Prize-winning criminal law scholar James Forman Jr. will deliver Macalester’s 2019 commencement address at graduation on May 18.

Forman Jr., who is the J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School, his alma mater, won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for his book Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.

Locking Up Our Own was also long-listed for the National Book Award, named one of the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2017, won GQ’s Book of the Year and was short-listed for the Inaugural Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice.

After graduating law school in 1992, Forman Jr. served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she was Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He later began work as a public defender in Washington, D.C.

In D.C., he co-founded the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, which offers comprehensive educational programs for teens involved in the juvenile justice system. Since its founding in 1997, the school has opened two additional campuses in the D.C. area as well as a learning center to help young adults transitioning from incarceration finish their GED and earn practical skills for the workforce.

Forman Jr. is also the son of civil rights leader James Forman Sr., who is known for his work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Black Panther Party and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Forman Sr. passed away in 2005 at the age of 76.