#BLACKHISTORYMONTH: "FROM ENSLAVEMENT TO MASS INCARCERATION" & THE LONG ROAD TO FREEDOM
We marked the beginning of Black History Month with two exhilarating days in Montgomery and Selma, Alabama for Public Rights Project’s first organization-wide retreat. We are so grateful for this rare opportunity to visit so many historic sites that were the epicenter in the fight for voting rights and against desegregation during the Civil Rights Movement, inspiring a new generation of leadership that forever changed the course of U.S. history.
We began this two-day journey at the Legacy Museum, a one-of-a-kind exhibit that curates decades and centuries of the African-American struggle, from slavery to the Civil War, from Reconstruction to Jim Crow, from the Civil Rights Movement to the War on Drugs and to the present-day era of mass incarceration.
We sat down with Judge Myron Thompson of the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Alabama over lunch to talk about his judicial career and the role of courts in bending the arc of the moral universe towards justice. Judge Thompson was nominated by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 to succeed another civil rights icon, the late-Judge Frank M. Johnson, who in 1954 ruled in favor of Rosa Parks, striking down Montgomery’s discriminatory ordinance that prohibited African-Americans from sitting alongside white passengers in public transit.
Then, we headed an hour west of Montgomery to Selma, the epicenter in the struggle for voting rights in the South, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched alongside civil rights activists to demand that the state of Alabama allow African-Americans to exercise their sacred right to vote, only to be met with violence on the other end of the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge on "Bloody Sunday."
We heard directly from foot soldiers of the movement and unsung heroes who made those acts of civil disobedience and resistance to oppression possible.
We spent the next morning immersed at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Sitting in a vast expanse of green are hundreds of emblems with names engraved on each to commemorate those who died from lynchings in every county across the United States.
The Memorial includes a powerful call to action, asking counties to claim their own memorial to lynchings that occurred in their backyards and bring those memorials home to confront their history of violence and injustice.
We are thankful to Equal Justice Initiative for its decades-long work to reform our criminal justice system and to honor the legacy of many whose lives perished during some of the darkest chapters of our history. (To learn more about EJI’s work, click here.)
Today, despite the gains we've made, the stains of slavery and Jim Crow still linger: from mass incarceration of black and brown men to disinvestment in communities of color and to immigration policies that force many to live in the shadows.
As we embark on another year in the fight for public rights, we are recommitting ourselves to the promotion of our nation’s ideals, rooted in respect for the rule of law and in the firm belief that everyone, regardless of their race or ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, disability and immigration status, should be able to live in their community without fear of persecution. And I hope you will join us.
(S/O to our allies at Offices of Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Race Forward and Incite.org)
Jill Habig | Founder & President
WAYS YOU CAN VOLUNTEER WITH PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT
2019 will be a busy year. We recently launched our new Affirmative Leaders Fellowship, a one-year program for current government lawyers who are passionate about public service and are interested in developing affirmative litigation skills. In the spring, we will also be launching the application to recruit our second cohort of Public Rights Project Fellowship.
Below are some upcoming activities in which we’d love for you to engage. Please use this form to let us know BY MARCH 5 if you are available for one or more of them.
Affirmative Leaders Fellowship Resume Review: 1-3 hour commitment between March 13-20
Affirmative Leaders Fellowship Video Interviews : Flexible between March 25-29
PRP Fellowship Resume Review: 5-hour commitment between May 20-24
PRP Fellowship In-Person Interviews: Flexible between July 8-12
PRP Fellowship Reference Checking: Flexible between July 8-12
Webinar or in-person training for PRP Fellowship: Webinar dates TBD
GROWING THE PRP FAMILY!
EXCITING NEWS: We are thrilled to announce that the PRP family is growing. Nicolette Del Palacio has joined Public Rights Project as its inaugural Community Organizer.
Prior to her time at PRP, Nicolette was a Regional Organizing Director with NextGen America, mobilizing tens of thousands of youth voters in Maricopa County, Arizona in the past midterm elections to elect progressive candidates and advance progressive ideas.
Nicolette will be critical in our efforts to engage communities in the region across issues like consumer protection, wage theft and environmental justice. Welcome to the team Nicolette!
To learn more about Nicolette, click here.
THE SAN FRANCISCO AFFIRMATIVE LITIGATION PROJECT PRESENTS:
"A Conversation With Jill Habig: Empowering Local & State Governments To Fight For Justice"
Earlier this month, our founder & president, Jill Habig, returned to her alma mater, Yale Law School, for a conversation on how government lawyers can build on the power of their offices to uphold the rule of law and defend their communities from the threats of the current federal administration. We were so delighted to see both familiar and new faces, who are eager to #JoinTheFight for a future that is inclusive of everyone, not just the privileged few.
THE 42ND ANNUAL PUBLIC INTEREST LAW CAREER (PILC) FAIR
We had the pleasure of meeting so many young and talented law students at NYU Law’s 42nd Public Interest Law Career (PILC) Fair. We are encouraged by the energy and enthusiasm from so many, who share our commitment to making sure that our justice system works for everyone. With so many currently at stake, we are confident that the future of our democracy is bright.
If you (or anyone you know) is a current law student passionate about public service, and is interested in doing cutting-edge public interest work, apply to our 2019 Summer Legal Internship program.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…
Price Student Fights For Social Justice
Our inaugural Fellowship Coordinator, Kennedy Reese, spoke to the University of Southern California's Daily Trojan about her work at Public Rights Project and her commitment to advancing social justice as an M.P.P. candidate at USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.
"A lot of local offices are underfunded and understaffed. Public Rights Project is trying to bridge the gap...If it’s a staff issue, [we'll] help you get staff; if it’s any pro bono work we can do to alleviate the pressure...we can do that, [too]."
(Read more via Daily Trojan)