Assata Taught Me cover 4

State Violence, Mass Incarceration, and the Movement for Black Lives

Donna Murch

Haymarket Books (Fall 2017, world English rights)

Trade Paper • ISBN-13: 9781608468102 • US $17.95 • 5 1/2 in x 8 1/2 in • 200 pgs.



Drawing its title from one of America’s foremost revolutionaries, Assata Shakur, this collection of thought-provoking essays by award-winning scholar Donna Murch explores how social protest is challenging our system of racialized state violence and mass incarceration.

Murch exposes the devastating consequences of overlapping state-driven punishment campaigns against gangs, drugs, and crime on poor and working-class communities of color. Through largely hidden channels, it is these campaigns that generate enormous revenues for the state. Under such conditions, organized resistance to the advancing tide of police brutality and incarceration has proved difficult.

This timely and urgent book shows how a youth-led political movement has emerged since the killing of Trayvon Martin that challenges the bi-partisan consensus on punishment and looks to the future of through a radical, queer, and feminist lens. Murch frames the Black Lives Matter movement in relation to earlier struggles for Black liberation while excavating the origins of mass incarceration and the political economy that drives it.


Donna Murch is an Associate Professor of History at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She is the author of Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California (University of North Carolina Press).


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