Advocating for Social Change through Civic Engagement: Center for Law and Social Justice
Through our Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund’s Community-led Social Change grants, we’re partnering with the Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ) at Medgar Evers College, CUNY over five years as they dismantle and reimagine policies and systems that have prevented Black, Indigenous and other communities of color from thriving both prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. CLSJ addresses systemic inequities through a variety of approaches, including increasing civic engagement and voter participation in Central Brooklyn through community education campaigns, facilitating research, and building organizing capacity. As CLSJ’s partners, we’re excited to share a look at some of their recent work (read on below!), as well as insight from CLSJ's Executive Director Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq. on the impact of our partnership:
"Brooklyn Community Foundation is an essential supporter of CLSJ's Advocacy Academy and Voting Rights initiatives. The Foundation's critical funding allows our organization to galvanize Black Brooklyn residents to actively support their communities with the training and tools necessary to spark change at the grassroots level. It also allows us to build civic participation by bolstering electoral turnout, particularly in local and statewide elections. The Foundation's commitment to racial justice anchors its support for making Brooklyn more equitable and inclusive for all. We are grateful for its partnership and look forward to working with Brooklyn Community Foundation on protecting and uplifting people of African descent throughout the borough for years to come."
Training Elected Officials with A Racial Equity Lens
Part of CLSJ’s mission is to provide civic education and engage the Black electorate to build political momentum and increase the representation and resources necessary for their communities to thrive. CLSJ recently revived their training on governance through a racial equity lens for local elected officials, providing a unique and critical service to Brooklyn leaders and the community at-large. CLSJ held two workshops in February with 19 Councilmembers from across the five boroughs in attendance. The objectives of these workshops were twofold: 1) to train newly elected New York City Council members to understand how Black New Yorkers’ unique and collective histories shape their current reality and 2) learn how to more effectively represent the specific needs and concerns of Black New Yorkers, in light of those histories. The training offered a range of topics relevant to current issues, such as culturally responsive land use, community budgeting, and the racial justice commission ballot proposals. CLSJ’s trainings are vital as they serve to minimize barriers between Black New Yorkers, local leaders, and governing structures.
CLSJ’s Advocacy Academy
One of the ways CLSJ centers racial justice through advocacy and organizing is through their Advocacy Academy, an 11-week virtual Civic Engagement course made for Black New Yorkers 18 years of age and above to learn how to implement programs, services, and other changes they want for their communities. In the most recent Academy cycle, participants created service-learning campaigns around issues that were close to them. They learned how to engage in issue organizing, how to facilitate engagement with community-based organizations and elected officials, and created step-by-step plans to guide the development of their programs. The next cycle of the Advocacy Academy kicks off on April 19, 2022; register here today!
Racial Justice Commission
In response to the momentous Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, the City launched the Racial Justice Commission to audit the City Charter and eliminate structural racism within the New York City government. CLSJ’s Executive Director Lurie Daniel Favors serves on the Racial Justice Commission, which released the final report to the City Clerk's office in late 2021. The report includes three structural changes in the form of ballot proposals that will be included in the next General Election in November 2022, and a roadmap the City should take to dismantle structural racism in government. The three ballot proposals are: adding a statement of values to guide the City government, establishing a Racial Equity Office, Plan, and Commission, and measuring the true local cost of living. New Yorkers will have the opportunity to vote for these measures on Election Day, November 8, 2022.