For immediate release | April 24, 2012

Joint Conference of Librarians of Color welcomes author and activist Jamal Joseph

CHICAGO - Author, director and activist Jamal Joseph will join the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC), Sept. 19-23, 2012 in Kansas City, Mo., as the closing general session speaker.

In the 1960s, Jamal Joseph exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today he is an associate professor and past chair of their School of the Arts film division. His personal odyssey - from the streets of Harlem to Rikers Island and Leavenworth, to the halls of Columbia, is detailed in his book, “Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention.”

One of the youngest members of the Panther 21, Joseph was charged with conspiracy in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the '60s and was sent to prison twice. While incarcerated, he earned two college degrees, wrote five plays, two volumes of poetry and found his calling.

Joseph has written and directed for Black Starz, HBO, FoxTV, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. and A&E, and was nominated for a 2008 Academy Award in the Best Song category for his contributions to the song "Raise It Up," performed by IMPACT Repertory Theatre and Jamia Simone Nash in the 2007 film “August Rush.”

Joseph is also the founder and artistic director of IMPACT, a Harlem-based youth theatre company, and executive director of New Heritage Films, a not-for-profit organization that provides training and opportunities for minority filmmakers.

The Joint Conference of Librarians of Color is a conference for everyone and brings together a diverse group of librarians, library staff, library supporters and community participants to explore issues of diversity in libraries and how they affect the ethnic communities that libraries serve. Under the theme, “Gathering at the Waters: Celebrating Stories and Embracing Communities,” JCLC deepens connections across constituencies, creates spaces for dialogue on issues of diversity and encourages the transformation of libraries into more democratic and diverse organizations. For more information about the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, please visit

JCLC will provide a unique opportunity for learning with over seventy concurrent sessions including panel discussions, presentations, workshops, and roundtables. Programming is divided into five tracks—Advocacy, Outreach and Collaboration; Collections, Programs and Services; Deep Diversity and Cultural Exchange; Leadership, Management and Organizational Development; and Technology and Innovation. Three pre-conferences will provide more focused exploration of diversity leadership development, diversity action plans, and advocacy in diverse communities.

Kansas City, newly revitalized and richly diverse, will provide an ideal backdrop for this gathering, with the beautiful symbol of fountains set throughout the landscape. Kansas City offers numerous cultural opportunities, including a culinary scene set apart by world-famous barbeque and nightlife fueled by a vibrant jazz community.

The Joint Conference of Librarians of Color is sponsored by the five ethnic caucuses: the American Indian Library Association (AILA), Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking. The first Joint Conference was held in Dallas, Texas in 2006. More information may be found at

Jamal Joseph’s participation is made possible through the generous support of Algonquin Books, part of Workman Publishing Company. Workman Publishing Company is the creator of award-winning calendars, cookbooks, parenting/pregnancy guides, and fun, educational children’s titles, as well as gardening, humor, self-help and business books.


Miguel Figueroa


Office for Diversity & Spectrum