Community Profile | Hashim Jabar + Racial Justice Now!
Dayton, Ohio is known for its innovative flair, and one of the latest success stories is the advocacy group Racial Justice Now! (RJN!) RJN! is at the forefront for advocating, organizing and implementing policy changes with regards to education in Ohio, as part of their dedication to eliminating institutional and systemic racism across the entire state. RJN! was founded by Professor Vernellia Randall, and Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, when they came together to help combat the problems that Zakiya was facing with regards to her son and the Dayton public school system. Zakiya felt that her and her son’s civil and human rights were being violated through the education system, so she decided to dedicate herself, as did Professor Randall, to bringing about change. The vision of RJN! became to help shape black parents to become leaders in how their children are educated.
RJN! has experienced some great successes during their time of advocacy. Firstly, they were successful at getting a moratorium placed on out of school suspensions for Pre-K – 3rd grade students, after studies showed the detrimental effect it was having on these children. Recently, they had a course of study changed in Dayton Public Schools, by adding in a culturally relevant curriculum that actually looks like the population that the school serves. They also work to hire parent organizers from the community, people who are directly affected by the policies, and train them to be advocates. They are shown how to serve and organize, and they are trained so as to increase their political understanding of the systems that they are working with, and sometimes, against.
Hashim Jabar is the current interim director of RJN!, taking over the position as of February 2017. Previous to this, Mr. Jabar served as the RJN! Communications Coordinator and organized events and press conferences, developed relationships with media, and participated in online fundraising and mass communications distribution. Most recently, Hashim successfully organized the statewide #DontFireOHKids campaign to keep funding for the youth summer employment program which was cut from the state budget. As the Volunteer Director of the West Dayton Task Force, H.A. Jabar strengthens the Dayton community by focusing on a culturally relevant curriculum for Dayton Public School students and coordinating programs that provide solutions, mentorship, personal development and protection for the youth of Dayton.
His dedication to his community is obvious when you listen to him speak about his work, and you see the pride in his eyes as he shows a group of activists around the large auditorium at Westwood Elementary, the location of this Saturday’s town hall meeting with Representative Mike Turner. RJN! supports holding elected representatives accountable, so Hashim agreed to help the local activists secure a location that would be suitable for such a gathering. Westwood Elementary, with its modern facilities and spacious surroundings was the perfect choice, and with the blessing of Principal Akisha Shehee, the event was confirmed. Hashim is rightfully proud of the work that has taken place at this school, and is very excited to be sharing the success story of Westwood Elementary with the people of Dayton on Saturday night, during the town hall meeting.
Written by Guest Contributor Kim M.