Stanley Nelson’s Attica, A conversation with Stanley Nelson and Heather Thompson, moderated by Norval Soleyn
Acclaimed documentarian and CCNY alum Stanley Nelson will discuss his latest film, Attica, which chronicles the story of the largest and deadliest prison uprising in US history. Marking the 50th anniversary of the Attica rebellion, Nelson’s documentary provides a deep look into the events that transpired and situates it within broader social, political, and economic forces. Stanley Nelson will be in conversation with Heather Thompson – a historian at the University of Michigan in the Department of Afro American and African American Studies, the Department of History, and the Residential College – and author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Norval Soleyn, Director of the Urban Mentoring and Achievement Network (UMAAN), part of the CUNY Black Male Initiative, will moderate the discussion.
This event is co-sponsored by the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, the Black Studies Program, the Department of Media and Communication Arts, the Documentary Forum, Third World Newsreel, and the Urban Mentoring and Achievement Network. It is part of the Racial Justice Fellows program, which trains and supports students to become deeply involved in antiracist movements.
Stanley Nelson is today’s leading documentarian of the African American experience. His films combine compelling narratives with rich historical detail to shine new light on the under-explored American past. Awards received over the course of his career include a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, five Primetime Emmy Awards, and lifetime achievement awards from the Emmys and IDA. In 2013, Nelson received the National Medal in the Humanities from President Obama. In 2019, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool was nominated by the GRAMMYs for Best Music Film. In 2000, Mr. Nelson, and his wife, Marcia Smith, co-founded Firelight Media, a non-profit production company dedicated to advancing contemporary social justice issues, amplifying underrepresented narratives, and fostering a new generation of diverse filmmakers. Nelson received his BFA from CCNY, where his mother worked as a librarian.
Heather Ann Thompson is a historian at the University of Michigan in the Department of Afro American and African American Studies, the Department of History, and the Residential College. She is the author of Whose Detroit: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City, and Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 which won the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and won five additional book prizes. Thompson also regularly writes about policing and prisons for The New York Times, The New Yorker, TIME, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, etc., as well for the top publications in her field. She sits on myriad policy advisory boards, and was appointed to National Academy of Sciences blue ribbon panel on the causes and consequences of mass incarceration. She currently sits on its standing Committee on Law and Justice. In 2021 Thompson was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to write her next book: Bullet and Burn: The Move Bombing of 1985 and Law and Order America.