Saint Mary’s Announces 2012 "Jan Term" Speaker Series

Crossing Borders” Theme Features Prison Warden Turned Death Penalty Opponent,
Bay Area Cultural Cartographer and Examines"White Privilege" via Hip Hop

What’s at risk when ideological, political, physical and cultural borders are crossed? Find out at the 2012 January Term Speaker Series at Saint Mary’s College of California. 

The featured guest speakers for the annual lecture series, which explores the theme of "Crossing Borders," includes: Jeanne Woodford, who after carrying out four executions as the Director of California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), now heads up a national organization opposing the death penalty; San Francisco cultural historian Rebecca Solnit, who will explore how borders between public and private life are policed, ways they break open in crisis, and what happens when people cross over to live together in public, as in the Occupy Movement, and Oakland-based hip hop artist, community activist and playwright Ariel Luckey, who will offer insights on the consequences of seeing history only through the prism of white privilege.

The speaker series is an annual staple of the College’s intense month-long “Jan Term,” when students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, explore new intellectual territory and take classes that often embody the Lasallian tradition of social action.  

All lectures are free and open to the public and will be in the Soda Activity Center at Saint Mary’s College of California, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA 94556

Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, 7 p.m.

Jeanne Woodford, Executive Director, Death Penalty Focus

Jeanne Woodford, Executive Director, Death Penalty FocusJeanne Woodford oversaw four executions as the Undersecretary and Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Currently, as the Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus, she leads a national effort to end the death penalty in California and the rest of the country. Woodford, who says "I've killed four people for the state of California, and it didn't make anything better for anyone," will present a lecture about her personal evolution on the death penalty. The former San Quentin Prison warden is currently pushing the Safe California law (, anew initiative that would replace capital punishment in the state with a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. She, and other supporters, are seeking 500,000 signatures by March 2012 to place the measure before voters. So far they've garnered just over 200,000 names.

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012, 7 p.m.

Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca SolnitA cultural historian, Rebecca Solnit will speak on "Crossing the Public/Private Divide," exploring how the boundaries between public and private life are policed and how they break open in crises such as natural disasters and during moments of dissent such as the Occupy movement. The San Francisco writer says "For me all this is also about the deep and unacknowledged desires people have to live in public, to have a voice, to feel like a member of society, a participant, not an observer." Solnit is the author of thirteen books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory. They include November 2010’s "Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas," a book of 22 maps and nearly 30 collaborators; 2009's "A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster," and many others. 

Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, 7 p.m.

Ariel Luckey, Actor, Hip Hop Poet, Playwright

Ariel LuckeyAriel Luckey challenges audiences to examine the legacies of white privilege by holding a mirror up to his own family's journey through American history. His lecture, entitled "Free Land: Race and Land in United States," expands on areas explored in his one man play "Free Land." In the solo hip hop theater production, Luckey, the descendant of white homesteaders from Wyoming, examines the ugly underside of a free government land grant from the 1860s -- a grant that gave his ranching family opportunity, but which in reality was, as he describes, part of a “legacy of theft and genocide in the Wild Wild West." Luckey's community and performance work dances in the crossroads of education, art, and activism. The Oakland-based acclaimed poet, actor, and playwright was named a “visionary” by Utne Reader in 2008. 

Background: January Term, or "Jan Term" for short, is an intensive four-week academic experience at Saint Mary’s College. A hallmark of the session is the Speaker Series, which brings provocative speakers from the worlds of art, politics, science and technology to the campus. During the day visiting speakers meet with several classes and engage in lively roundtable discussions with students and in the evening they present their ideas to the entire community at a free public lecture. For more information contact the Jan Term office at 925-631-4771 or


Michael McAlpin, Director of Media Relations, 925-631-4222 office, 925-878-9535 cell,

About SMC
The Saint Mary’s College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For nearly 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church’s oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls more than 3,800 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary’s College at and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.