2015 has been a hard, frequently frustrating year for many of us working for racial justice. In this year alone, we have lost too many members of our community.
On a personal level, 2015 was also the year that I lost my father. My father was born in 1927 in Armstrong, Alabama. Poor, Black and in a house with no electricity or running water. An only child, he never knew his father, and his mother passed away when he was three. He spent much of his youth shuttling between foster homes and the orphanage. But he was a smart child. He attended Tuskegee Institute and served 26 years in the military.
While in the military, and stationed in Edinburgh, Scotland, he met my mother. They married in 1958. Interracial marriage was still illegal in most states in the U.S. so their marriage was not legally recognized until nearly a decade later. He was committed to the fight for equality and held a lifelong belief that in the end justice prevails. He is the reason that I do this work.
At CSI, I work everyday to honor my father’s vision of justice a reality for communities of color.
CSI’s work is needed now and we need your help to sustain this work.
What We Must Do in 2016
There’s been a sea change in the way people view race. Because of mass movement, embodied by #BlackLivesMatter or #Not1More and others, more and more people understand that racism is more than just about bias between people of different races.
We at CSI are catalyzing this understanding to action. We are working with community to center racial equity within the institutions that govern our lives—whether the criminal justice system, transportation system, or food system—so that we can create communities in which everyone, including communities of color, can thrive.
A few highlights of our work in 2015:
- Supporting over 50 government jurisdictions to apply strategies to advance racial equity.
- Catalyzing place-based strategies in over 30 states to move racial equity.
- Supporting a community effort to secure equity provisions within New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan for distributive renewable energy.
- Working with community, government, and philanthropy to apply our communications testing work to engage new audiences on why race matters.
As we move into a new year, I have been thinking about one of my father’s favorite quotes by Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” I think about him and the countless others that have struggled for racial equity, and I remind myself that we stand on their shoulders.
We have so much work to do, and we need your help.