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Antonia Hylton

Antonia Hylton is a Peabody and two-time Emmy award-winning Correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, and the New York Times bestselling author of MADNESS: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum.

In Madness, Antonia tells the 93-year-old history of Crownsville Hospital, one of the last segregated asylums with surviving records and a campus that still stands to this day in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

She blends the intimate tales of patients and employees whose lives were shaped by Crownsville with a decade-worth of investigative research and archival documents. Madness chronicles the stories of Black families whose mental health suffered as they tried, and sometimes failed, to find safety and dignity. Hylton also grapples with her own family’s experiences with mental illness, and the secrecy and shame that it reproduced for generations.

 

As Crownsville Hospital grew from an antebellum-style work camp to a tiny city sitting on 1,500 acres, the institution became a microcosm of America’s evolving battles over slavery, racial integration, and civil rights. During its peak years, the hospital’s wards were overflowing with almost 2,700 patients. By the end of the 20th-century, the asylum faded from view as prisons and jails became America’s new focus.

 

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. From 2016 to 2020, Antonia was a Correspondent and Producer for Vice Media and HBO’s nightly news and documentary show, Vice News Tonight. Since 2019, she has also served as an annual judge for the American Mosaic Journalism Prize.

Please visit www.antoniahylton.com.

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