Jared Reinmuth + Dan Meyers: Big Black: Stand at Attica (with Victor LaValle + Pearl Smith)
Monday February 17: 7:00PM – 8:00PM
This event is free attend and will take place in 3rd floor Rare Book Room, located at 828 Broadway (at 12th Street). If you would like to pre-order a copy of the book, you may do so here.
Doors open 30 minutes before the start of the event.
A graphic novel memoir from Frank “Big Black” Smith, a prisoner at Attica State Prison in 1971, whose rebellion against the injustices of the prison system remains one of the bloodiest civil rights confrontations in American history.
Four days in 1971 changed the course of American history. This is the true story from the man at the center of it all.
In the summer of 1971, the New York’s Attica State Prison is a symbol of everything broken in America – abused prisoners, rampant racism and a blind eye turned towards the injustices perpetrated on the powerless. But when the guards at Attica overreact to a minor incident, the prisoners decide they’ve had enough – and revolt against their jailers, taking them hostage and making demands for humane conditions. Frank “Big Black” Smith finds himself at the center of this uprising, struggling to protect hostages, prisoners and negotiators alike. But when the only avenue for justice seems to be negotiating with ambitious Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Big Black soon discovers there may be no hope in finding a peaceful resolution for the prisoners in Attica.
Written by Jared Reinmuth and Frank “Big Black” Smith himself, adapted and illustrated by Ameziane, Big Black: Stand At Attica is an unflinching look at the price of standing up to injustice in what remains one of the bloodiest civil rights confrontations in American history.
Join us in the Rare Book Room for a discussion between Jared Reinmuth, Daniel Meyers, Pearl Smith and acclaimed writer Victor LaValle.
Jared Reinmuth has worked as an actor, writer, teacher, director, and songwriter. He made his acting debut at the 1994 Dionysian International Theatre Festival in Veroli, Italy in Karen Malpede’s The Beekeeper’s Daughter. Reinmuth made his directorial debut in 2016 at the Theater for the New City’s Dream UP Festival with Andrea J. Fulton’s Roof-Top Joy. His adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ seminal masterpiece, Monte Cristo, debuted at the Hackensack Cultural Arts Center. He began his writing collaboration with Frank “Big Black” Smith in 1997, while assisting his father, famed Attica attorney Dan Meyers. In 2017, at the suggestion of his friend and colleague, Patrick Kennedy, Reinmuth joined forces with co-creator and artist Améziane, Frank Smith’s wife, Pearl Battle Smith, and composer Alex Tichane to fully realize the work initially started by Frank “Big Black” Smith, as the graphic novel Big Black: Stand at Attica.
Daniel L. Meyers, retired attorney and former president of the New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, practiced law for 48 years, specializing in criminal defense, civil and human rights. Known as a “People’s Lawyer,” he championed the rights of the oppressed and supported the abolition of prisons, the death penalty and instead advocated for a comprehensive restorative justice program.
Just hours before the running of a three year statute of limitations, he served and filed the Attica class action civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the more than 1,000 prisoners who, on September 13, 1971, were and brutalized, tortured and murdered by New York State police on orders of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He, with four co-counsel, litigated the “Attica Massacre” for more than 25 years.
Recognizing the present need for a strong progressive movement, he dedicates his retirement to supporting local and national justice campaigns and mentoring young committed lawyers.
Victor LaValle is the author of seven works of fiction including The Ballad of Black Tom, which is a finalist for a Nebula Award, a Hugo Award, a Bram Stoker Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Award. His latest novel, The Changeling, was released in June 2017. His other books have won the American Book Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Key to Southeast Queens. LaValle is also the writer of the acclaimed comic book series Destroyer with BOOM! Studios. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City with his wife and kids.
Pearl “Battle” Smith is a retired social worker who worked with the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice as a court liaison and now serves as a missionary. She first met Frank “Big Black” Smith in 1979. She has one son, Otis, and a granddaughter.