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American Inferno: How My Cousin Became a South Central Statistic

Danielle Allen
In Conversation With Franklin Leonard
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Episode Summary

In Danielle Allen’s elegiac family memoir, Cuz: On the Life and Times of Michael A., she tries to make sense of a young African American man’s tragic coming-of-age in Los Angeles. Allen, a Harvard professor and author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, became the "cousin-on-duty" when her younger cousin Michael was released from prison. Arrested at fifteen, tried as an adult—three years after his release, Michael was shot and killed. Why? Allen’s deeply personal and poignant story is an unwavering look at a world transformed by the sudden availability of narcotics and the rise of street gangs, drugs, and the failures of mass incarceration. Rallying an urgent call for system-wide reform, Allen discusses her new work with Franklin Leonard, a film executive who founded The Black List, a yearly publication featuring Hollywood’s most popular unproduced screenplays.

Participant(s) Bio

Danielle Allen is the James Conant Bryant University Professor at Harvard University and author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, winner of the Parkman Prize. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Franklin Leonard is the founder of The Black List, the yearly publication highlighting Hollywood’s most popular unproduced screenplays, and the company birthed to continue its mission via live events, a podcast, and a two-sided screenplay marketplace. More than 325 Black List scripts have been produced as feature films earning 250 Academy Award nominations and 50 wins, including four of the last nine Best Pictures and half of the last twenty screenwriting Oscars. Franklin has been named of one The Root’s 100 Most Influential African-Americans, Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” and was awarded the 2015 African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA)’s Special Achievement Award for career excellence. He is a member of the Associate's Branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.