The Equal Justice Initiative works to protect basic human rights, to challenge economic and racial injustice, and to end mass incarceration in the United States. Based in Montgomery, Alabama, it was founded in 1989 by public interest lawyer and bestselling author, Bryan Stevenson. It is a private, nonprofit organization that provides re-entry assistance to individuals who were previously incarcerated, challenges the death penalty, and provides legal representation to individuals who have been illegally convicted or unfairly sentenced in state jails and prisons.

When I was white, there were some very specific things I believed about myself and very specific things I believed about other people.

1. I believed that I was an individual and that my actions spoke for myself.
2. I believed that I succeeded or failed by own merit.
3. I believed that I was special and that I had something to significant to share.
4. I believed that I was important.

The specific things I believed about other people were extensions of the beliefs I had of myself. I believed that others succeeded or failed by their own merit, just like me. If you weren’t successful, it was because you didn’t want to be.

This afternoon I found one of EJI’s calendars which provides comprehensive information and facts about racial injustice and intolerance. Facts are provided on each day of every week of every month throughout the entire calendar. Here are a few gems:

 1830- The Indian Removal Act was signed by President Andrew Jackson. It required tribes to exchange land east of the Mississippi River for territory in the west. Those who resisted were forcibly removed.

1832– The General Assembly of Alabama enacted a law that criminalized the customs of Creek and Cherokee nations. It forbade tribal leaders from meeting together, and forbade Creeks and Cherokees from testifying against white Americans in court.

1834– The legislature of Alabama passed a law that, effectively, banned any free black person from living in the entire state of Alabama.

1847– Missouri banned free black people from immigrating to the entire state. It also outlawed black people from receiving an education.

1857– In Dred Scott vs. Sandford, the United States Supreme Court ruled that individuals of African descent could not be U.S. citizens, were not protected by the Constitution, and had no standing to sue in federal court.

1865– Kentucky refused to ratify the 13th Amendment, which abolishes slavery. Kentucky ratified this amendment in 1976, approximately 41 years ago.

1883– The United States refused to allow Congress to criminalize the acts of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist, terrorist group (U.S. vs. Harris).

1895– Nineteen Hopi leaders were imprisoned on Alcatraz Island. They allegedly opposed government assimilation efforts and were confined to specific areas for their farming. Hopi children were forced to enroll in boarding schools.

1942– More than 1,000 white Americans rioted outside of a public housing project in Detroit, Michigan to prevent African-American families from moving into the neighborhood.

1947– Bayard Rustin, civil rights activist, was arrested for sitting with a white man on a public bus in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He spent 22 days on a prison chain gang for this offense.

1957– Members of the Ku Klux Klan forced an African-American resident of Montgomery, Alabama, Willie Edwards Jr., to jump to his death from a bridge over the Alabama River. None of the klan members faced prosecution for his murder.

1960– Governor Ernest Vandiver Jr. of Georgia threatened to withhold state funding from any public school that attempted to integrate (by allowing black and white students to attend the same school).

1995– The Mississippi legislature ratified the 13th Amendment, which abolishes slavery. They rejected this amendment in 1865.

1965– Viola Liuzzo was shot and killed after driving voting rights activists to Selma, Alabama from Detroit, Michigan.

1995– Alabama brought back chain gangs for state prisoners, which prompted other states to do the same.

1999– In New York City, NYPD officers shot and killed an unarmed African-American male, Amadou Diallo, 41 times.

2010– In Tucson, Arizona schools were barred from teaching Mexican American Studies when the governor banned all ethnic studies courses.

2012– In Sanford, Florida, a seventeen-year-old, African-American boy was shot and killed. Murderer George Zimmerman was arrested only after national outcry.

2013– An Alabama resident was sentenced to jail for consensual sex with his male partner.

What color is your parachute?


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