Rikers Public Memory Project Archive

The primary aim of this oral history project is to document the experiences of those who have been directly impacted by Rikers Island. In the absence of a comprehensive history of “Torture Island,” this project is an opportunity to ensure that, as we move towards closure, the stories of those who have suffered as a result of Rikers are preserved. As such, the oral history project is accountable to those to whom the memory of Rikers belongs. By preserving a history told through the voices of directly impacted people, we prevent racial disparities in who owns narratives about Rikers, including who educates the larger public, and who analyzes its lessons for future policy. This helps prevent abuses and racial disparity from recurring, and promotes a new system that is based on restorative justice, community care, and healing. Since 2018, volunteers have interviewed narrators in accessible locations around New York City and virtually. The audio interviews are housed in a digital archive created in collaboration with the New York Public Library. We are continuing to add to our oral history collection.



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When COVID-19 hit, RPMP partnered with Exodus Transitional to conduct 20 interviews of people released from Rikers during the pandemic. We were able to capture the experiences of people who survived…

A mini-docuseries using recurring themes and audio oral history to document, educate, and activate the oppressive legacy of Rikers Island which spans more than 100 years. These videos were made by…

The primary aim of this oral history project is to document the experiences of those who have been directly impacted by Rikers Island. As such, the oral history project is accountable to those to whom…

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About

The Rikers Public Memory Project: A Community Truth and Healing Process is a community-based, participatory initiative through which our collective stories about the impact of Rikers are activated to envision a more just NYC. The project is an outgrowth of an ongoing partnership between Freedom Agenda, Create Forward, and the Humanities Action Lab, who, together, sought to think through the ways that the process of collectively remembering can be used as a strategic organizing tool in the movement to close Rikers Island.