Filming of Chart a Course
Toggle caption Photo by Nora Luongo

Chart a Course: Black Lives Matter and The Wire

In this first video in a series of long-form conversations featuring faculty, students and staff, where we open up the floor on courses, topics, and collaborations in the School of Arts & Sciences-Newark (SASN), Professor in Sociology and Executive Vice Chancellor Sherri-Ann Butterfield and Express Newark Director and Professor in English  Fran Bartkowski convene at Shine Portrait Studio to discuss their joint class on Black Lives Matter and HBO's "The Wire."

"The Wire" ran for five seasons beginning in 2002, exploring Baltimore's drug trade through the complex intersections of race, crime, policing, politics, unions, and the public school system. It was highly critically acclaimed, and went on to inspire numerous courses examining the many aspects of its storylines.

Bartkowski and Butterfield, who are teaching this course for the third time, share why "The Wire" still makes for such rich material nearly twenty years after it first aired, as well as how Covid-19, Black Lives Matter protests, and an upcoming presidential election has added different layers to the material, and what they hope students will take away from the course. 

Sherri-Ann Butterfield and Fran Bartkowski have taught 'The Wire' several times, examining issues of race, policing, urban education and more with their students.