Dr. Robert Fullilove, professor of sociomedical sciences and associate dean of Community and Minority Affairs at the Mailman School of Public Health, gave the thirteenth annual commencement address to the graduates of the Bard Prison Initiative at Taconic Correctional facility. A collaboration of the Initiative and the Mailman School’s department of sociomedical sciences began in 2010 when Dr. Fullilove and other Mailman School faculty members began teaching in the program. An active participant in the conversation on the benefits of putting a public health lens on incarceration in the U.S., Dr. Fullilove is also the senior adviser to the Bard Prison Initiative for public health programs.
In his address to the graduates and their guests, Dr. Fullilove described teaching at Mississippi Freedom School during the Freedom Summer of 1964. He noted that teaching for the Bard Prison Initiative reawakened the sense of hope and inspiration he experienced while working in the Civil Rights Movement more than 40 years ago.
Begun as a pilot program with 15 students, the Initiative – the largest of its kind in the U.S. – now enrolls nearly 300 incarcerated men and women and offers a Bard College education inside three maximum- and three minimum-security prisons.
Dr. Fullilove has taught at five of the six prison facilities that are part of the program.