Morehouse College Human Rights Film Fest

Common Good Atlanta: Breaking Down the Walls of Mass Incarceration

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In 2008, Sarah Higinbotham, a Ph.D. student at Georgia State University, wanted to teach a literature class in a Georgia prison. But she soon discovered that no college programs existed in Georgia prisons at the time. So, she started one. Common Good Atlanta: Breaking Down the Walls of Mass Incarceration, a documentary by Atlanta filmmaker Hal Jacobs, looks at the impact of the program on both students and instructors. Incarcerated students find an intellectual freedom that encourages growth and dignity, while instructors find a stimulating and transformative environment for the liberal arts.


Since 2008, an all-volunteer group of over 70 faculty from six universities have reached over 700 incarcerated students in four prisons, plus a downtown course for prison-impacted people. The program received a 2019 Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities and was a 2019 finalist for the American Civic Collaboration Awards, which highlight outstanding initiatives working to collaborate across divides at the national, local and youth levels. At the heart of the program’s mission is that broad, democratic access to higher education for people affected by incarceration strengthens the common good of our communities.


Hal Jacobs’s 2020 film, Lillian Smith: Breaking the Silence, received the award for best full-length documentary at the 2020 Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival, among other recognition. His work focuses on the arts, environment and social justice.


This screening is supported in part by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Morehouse College's Movement, Memory, and Justice Project.

  • Year
    2022
  • Runtime
    58 minutes
  • Language
    English
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Hal Jacobs
  • Screenwriter
    Janine Solursh, Hal Jacobs
  • Producer
    Hal Jacobs