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Some would argue that writing a really powerful book that inspires people, like Michelle Wallace's Black Macho and The Myth of The Superwoman , is activist scholarship. Some would argue that engaging in debates in public spaces, be they lectures or on TV is being an activist scholar because of the impact it has on people. But for me the work I do on the ground, independent of my work as a professor, or outside of media appearances, is why I call myself an activist scholar. The work I do with Books Through Bars, a grassroots organization that's trying to respond to the education crisis in prison is why I call myself an activist. For 10 years I've been working with the ACLU's drug law policy reform. There ain't no cameras there when we do that work. I don't think activism is enough, organizing is important. When Shequonda Cotton, a 14-year-old, was sentenced to seven years in a Texas juvenile facility after pushing a hall monitor, I organized a campaign to get her out. We began by pushing an Internet letter writing campaign and saw that through until she was released. When 17-year old Genarlow Wilson was convicted of raping his white girlfriend in Georgia we worked to get that overturned and I helped to get him into Morehouse where he's currently a student. In both cases it was about developing strategy and galvanizing people, but I tried to leverage what little bit of access or recognizability I have to get justice for those teenagers. My visibility isn't a strategy, but I use it where it helps to do the work I think matters.

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