Anna Deavere Smith Photo Credit Kwaku Alston

Prairie View A&M University’s Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center (TJCPC) will host a screening of award-winning actress Anna Deavere Smith’s play “Notes from the Field,” a dramatization depicting the nation’s school-to-prison pipeline issue on Wednesday, Oct. 19. 

The film features the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators caught in a system that pushed underprivileged youth out of the classroom and into incarceration.

“Anna Smith is very fantastic and I was very impressed with her breadth of knowledge about the juvenile justice system,” said Camille Gibson, executive director of the TJCPC at PVAMU.

“Across the country, there is a lot of research on what we should be doing, but for various reasons, we’re not doing what needs to be done to truly address this issue.”

In a heartfelt note documented on Smith’s website she explains her artistic process behind the play and how her work has gone beyond her writing room and the personal experiences of others.

“I now seek to extend my work beyond the artistic product that evolves out of those many conversations,” she said. “I now extend the realm of my work into the audience. What do you think? What is your position on the large and complex landscape of points where failed attempts at education meet prison walls, broken families, broken dreams, broken possibilities?

We know that the school system has not been the great equalizer, meaning that everybody doesn’t get quality education…these children are made to feel like school is not the place for them.

Camille Gibson, TJCPC executive director, PVAMU

“Even the position that is far from the nexus of the problem is a position. We all live somewhere in the landscape. We are really all connected.”

The event is open to the public. The audience is encouraged to participate in an open discussion with Smith at the end of the screening.

“The hope for this program is that our community will get the information to have the sensitivity needed to interact with young people and how to engage to see that our system is functional, Gibson said. “We need to have these conversations early in the legislative session.”

Event details

Location: PVAMU, 100 University Drive

Date & time: Wednesday, Oct. 19. 9AM

Free registration here: 

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Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...