A Conversation with Antonia Hylton, Author of Madness

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Meet Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist Antonia Hylton, who will discuss her new book Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum. The conversation will be moderated by Mendi Blue Paca, President and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.

Madness is the culmination of a decade-worth of investigative research and archival documents that chronicle the stories of Black families whose mental health suffered as they tried, and sometimes failed, to find safety and dignity. Here, Hylton also grapples with her own family’s experiences with mental illness, and the secrecy and shame that it reproduced for generations. She provides the historical backdrop—the politics, racial tensions, under-funding, and general threats of terror faced by Black Americans—to situate the Black experience within the mental health care industry.

In Madness, Hylton traces the legacy of slavery to the treatment of Black people’s bodies and minds in our current mental healthcare system. It is a captivating and heartbreaking meditation on how America decides who is sick or criminal, and who is worthy of our care or irredeemable.

Book sale and signing by Elm Street Books.

Registration required.

Antonia Hylton is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist at NBC News reporting on politics and civil rights, and the co-host of the hit podcasts Southlake and Grapevine. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where she received prizes for her investigative research on race, mass incarceration and the history of psychiatry. She lives in Brooklyn.

Mendi Blue Paca is President and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. She joined the foundation in 2018 to serve as the foundation’s Chief Community Impact Officer and Vice President of Community Impact. In her previous roles, she led grant-making, programs, policy advocacy and major community leadership initiatives to close the opportunity gap in Fairfield County.

Mendi oversaw the foundation’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Fund for Women & Girls, Immigrant Success Fund and Thrive by 25 initiatives. She also served as the key liaison for cross-sector collaborations with nonprofits, funder partners, external constituent groups and local elected officials.