Inaugural Scholar in Residence is named for Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College

The Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College has named Donna Hylton to serve as its first Scholar in Residence for a term that commences Sept. 9.

Hylton is deeply involved in movements for social justice around the country, drawing upon her experience being imprisoned in a women’s correctional facility for 27 years.


“I am thrilled and so honored for this opportunity,” said Hylton. “During my residency at Philander Smith College, I hope to bring my story to the classroom and to Little Rock, as well as an afford an opportunity to bring an authentic view of the criminal justice system to ensure the dignity and humanity of those interacting with it –from the inside, out.”

The ‘Scholar in Residence’ is a part of the Institute’s strategy to engage Philander Smith College students and the broader community in gaining a deeper understanding of social justice and the ways in which people can make a meaningful impact. “We understand social justice as an umbrella that covers a vast number of issues that includes – but is not limited to – race, economics, gender, LGBTQ, food, education, prison, health and environmental injustices,” said Tamika S. Edwards,  Social Justice Institute Executive Director. “Ms. Hylton will provide a diverse approach toward these important issues to broaden the worldview of our student body and surrounding community.”

Through the Scholar in Residence program, combined with a number of other partnerships and events, the Social Justice Institute aims to further the conversation on social justice and move the program to a model of intentional impact. PSC President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. believes this approach is foundational to helping grow the Institute to a regional center for justice-centered education.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Hylton as part of our efforts to broaden the scope of our Social Justice Institute,” said President Smothers. “We look forward to our Scholar in Residence’s engaging work and focus on helping our students and those beyond our campus to not only understand their responsibility to injustices, but to also be committed to advocacy and eradication of inequalities.”

Hylton’s first public appearance is slated to be a reading and of her memoir, A Little Piece of Light, at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 at the Little Rock Barnes & Noble bookstore.  The following day, Saturday, Sept. 14, she will be a guest speaker at the 2nd Annual DecARcerate Conference that will be held at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock wherescholars, advocates, and formerly incarcerated people will discuss Arkansas’ systems of mass incarceration and criminalization.