The Center for Constitutional Rights entered Black History Month with the purpose of paying tribute to the living legacy of Black freedom fighters, organizers, and artists who have charted the way for us - all of us - to transcend the status quo and touch a future that is more dignified, free, and joyful. We are honored that so many chose to learn and build in the shadows of these Black visionaries who left our people’s movements transformed in the breadth and daringness of our demands for social justice.
As our sister Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson has said, the survival of our “freedom dreams” depends on a mass movement to meet the needs of the people--not just what we would accept, “but actually what we deserve.” We deserve to witness the dismantling of institutions designed to degrade, exclude, and cage Black people. We deserve Black political speech, especially Black protest, that is protected, not infiltrated, surveilled, and criminalized. And we deserve to experience the universal discrediting of the absurd but deadly ideologies of white supremacy and anti-Black racism. As we pass the first anniversary of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, this is undeniable. But the horizon of our demands is not defined by what has to be torn-down. Our “freedom dreams” also demand that we set our sights on the world we have yet to build.
In that world, for the sake of our planet, vibrant coalitions of Black and indigenous communities will lead our response to the climate crisis. In that world, reparations for the intergenerational damage wrought by slavery and segregation is a reality, and public investment in Black communities and schools is robust and equitable. And in that world, Black people move, vision, create, and break the status quo yet again, but in safety and freedom.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is committed to building that reality side by side with our partners, which is why we are returning to Mississippi, the Delta and the Gulf South. This year we are opening the Center for Constitutional Rights Southern Regional Office, which will be a hub from which we will develop litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications across an array of social justice challenges facing the South – work we will do shoulder-to-shoulder with honored partners such as Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights, Mississippi in Action, Rise St. James, Voices of the Experienced, Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition, and others. We are looking forward to helping build the infrastructure to support justice movements powered by extraordinary Black Southern freedom fighters. Stay tuned and thank you again for spending Black History Month with us and for your commitment to Black liberation.
Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives
Senior Staff Attorney
P.S. Check-out our website for a compilation of the month's activities, and ways to support the activists, lawyers, and storytellers we featured this month.