Tag Archives: Civil Rights

No Trivial Pursuit: Criminal Justice Reform

It is an exciting time for criminal justice reform advocates across the country. Legislators, activists and citizens from across the political spectrum are coming together to make our nation’s justice system more just. This collaboration can be seen in the Bipartisan Summit that took place this past spring hosted by Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Donna Brazile and Pat Nolan. In addition, the new bipartisan Coalition for Public Safety brings together the Koch Brothers, the ACLU, the Center for American Progress and others and is working across the political spectrum to bring about comprehensive criminal justice reform. Read more…

Still Fighting for Voting Rights 50 Years After the Voting Rights Act

The right to vote is the cornerstone of American democracy and our most basic civil right. As Reform Jews and American citizens who care about a variety of social justice issues, we must recognize that all of these issues are inextricably linked to the right to vote. This year is an especially important year to talk about voting rights: this past March marked 50 years since the voting rights marches in Selma, AL and this coming August will mark 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. Read more…

Join Us in the Fight to End Racial Profiling in California

By Lee Winkelman

Reform CA is fighting to end racial profiling in California and we need your help now.

My son Henry is 11 years old.  When he starts to drive in a few years, I won’t worry that he will be pulled over because of the color of his skin. I am reassured that if Henry is in trouble, a police officer is someone he can turn to when he needs help. Read more…

What Happens When We Come Together

On Wednesday, Nebraska became the nineteenth state to abolish the death penalty. The vote made Nebraska the first state in two years to formally abolish capital punishment. The decision comes at a time when support for the death penalty is decreasing and the number of executions is declining. In fact, polls released last month by Pew Research Center and CBS News show that public support for the death penalty has declined to almost historic lows. Only 56% of Americans reported supporting the death penalty—the lowest level of support ever recorded by the CBS News poll and near the lowest level reported by Pew in the last 40 years. And, the level of support for capital punishment has been falling consistently for two decades. Read more…

President Makes Positive Steps Forward in Demilitarizing Police

The topics of criminal justice reform and community-police relations have been at the top of the news cycle for months. In fact, just yesterday the President traveled to Camden, New Jersey and visited with local law enforcement and met with young people in the Camden community to hear directly about the progress the revamped police force has made in building trust between law enforcement and the people of Camden. Through trips such as this one, and his establishment of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to improve communities and police departments across the country and respond to the series of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police. Read more…

RAC staff and supporters marching in Baltimore

Another Way to Welcome Shabbat

On Friday May 1, a number of us boarded the MARC train to Baltimore on our way to a march and rally organized by Jews United for Justice. We were once again disappointed and outraged by the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of the police. Though we were standing up for justice for Freddie Gray, we knew that we were also asking for justice in our broader criminal justice system. Read more…

Rabbi Jen Gubitz

Living in the Hyphen – Confronting Internalized Racism

by Rabbi Jen Gubitz

A version of these remarks was delivered by Rabbi Jen Gubitz on May 1, 2015 at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, MA. 

It was an image out of a utopian movie. Children seated in organized rows. Some dressed in traditional African garments. A vast array of what you could see: skin tones, hair color, height – and, of course, a vast array of what you could not see: religion, ability, disability, personality, and socio economics.  Children all singing together: “Jambo, Jambo, Jambo, sana, jambo. Jambo, jambo, jambo watato, jambo.” This was a 1974 song by Ella Jenkins using basic Swahili that meant: “Hello, hello, hello, everybody, hello” sung as part of the yearly celebration focused each year on a different part of the world – this time Africa.

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RAC staff and supporters marching in Baltimore

Healing and Progress in Baltimore

A tragedy in the city of Baltimore and the protests and riots that followed have once again refocused national attention on race, class, and unequal treatment under the law. Even as Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced last Friday that charges would be brought against the police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, RAC staff were en route to nearby Baltimore to stand with our partners in a peaceful protest calling for accountability and reform in law enforcement.

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