Anthony Papa, an anti-drug war activist, author, and artist will speak at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Monday December 4th.
Papa will be discussing his second memoir, This Side of Freedom: Life after Clemency. The book is a riveting, compelling tale about Papa’s life as an activist, writer and artist. He tells firsthand of his experience of returning home after serving 12 years of a 15-to-life sentence for a non-violent drug law violation, sentenced under the mandatory provisions of the Rockefeller Drug Laws of New York State. While behind bars, Papa found his passion for art and his haunting self-portrait entitled “15 to Life” ended up showing in the Whitney Museum. Papa used his art and personal story to generate a wave of media attention and in 1997 he was granted executive clemency by New York Governor George Pataki. Papa literally painted his way to freedom.
Papa, who is a manager of media & artist relations for the Drug Policy Alliance, was granted a pardon by NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo on 12/30/16, becoming the first individual in New York State history to receive both clemency (Gov.George Pataki 1996) and a pardon.
Mr. Papa’s stinging opinion pieces about the drug war have appeared in news sources across the United States, including his Huff Post blog.
Papa says that the freedom he fought so hard to get smacked him swiftly in the face, overpowering him. He struggled with his own freedom while fighting to free those he left behind. Papa goes through heart-wrenching trials and tribulations as he seeks to rebuild his life and continue his fight to end the war on drugs. Along the way he meets an array of individuals from famous movie stars to politicians and the very rich, enlisting their help in doing away with mass incarceration and draconian sentencing laws that have destroyed America’s criminal justice system.
Where: University of Massachusetts Amherst/ Integrated Sciences Complex, 3rd Floor room 3300, Boston, Massachusetts, United States 01003-9313 More info: 617-287-3130
When: December 4th, 2pm