Topher Sanders on Walking While Black

Topher Sanders
ACT at MIT

This fall, ACT is co-sponsoring a lecture series as part of MAS.S63 | Black Mobility and Safety in the US I, a new course taught by Ekene Ijeoma, Director of the Poetic Justice Group at the MIT Media Lab.

On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, beginning at 2pm, Topher Sanders will join the class, and will be responding to the prompt of Walking While Black.

Topher Sanders covers race, inequality and the justice system for ProPublica. In 2019, he was part of a team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Public Service and won the Peabody and George Polk awards for their coverage of President Trump’s family separation policy. In 2018, he and reporter Ben Conarck received the Paul Tobenkin award for race coverage and the Al Nakkula award for police reporting for their multi-part investigation “Walking While Black,” which explored how jaywalking citations are disproportionately given to black pedestrians. The investigation also earned a Deadline Club award, a National Association of Black Journalists’ Salute to Excellence award, an Online Journalism Award and the Florida Society of News Editors Gold Medal for Public Service. In 2016 Sanders co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit working to increase the number of investigative reporters and editors of color. He is a graduate of Tuskegee University and started his journalism career at The Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery, Alabama.

In this seminar and studio, Ijeoma will guide students to listen, learn, reflect and respond to issues around mobility (physical, mental, socio-economical, political, etc) and safety for Black Americans through words, images, and sounds that reference social science and anti-racist research. Weekly meetings will be organized around public lectures from guests ranging from designers and urban planners to activists and social scientists, and private individual presentations for the group.

Part of a two-semester course, Black Mobility and Safety in the US is organized into two-week topics around living while Black. The first semester (Fall 2020) will include: birthing, breathing, sleeping, eating, and walking; the second: learning, voting, driving, working, and loving. By the end of each semester, students will have the resources and tools to actively listen and respond critically to issues of Black mobility in the context of their own fields and their purposes.

Register for the lecture.