About Racial Justice NOW!

Our Vision

“Racial Justice NOW! (RJN) is shaping Black parents to become leaders in how their children are educated. ”

Our Mission

Racial Justice NOW! is committed to dismantling structural and institutional racism in all areas of people activity. Our primary focus is on the institution of education and lifting up the voices of dis-empowered Black parents and children. We are dedicated to stopping the school to prison pipeline and focus specifically on holding institutions accountable to equitable distribution of resources and services to Black people in Dayton and around the State of Ohio.

Our Founders

Vernellia Randall

Co-Founder / University of Dayton Law Professor Emeritus

A professor at the School of Law since 1990, Vernellia Randall writes extensively on and speaks internationally about race, women, and health care. She is the recipient of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health Chairman’s Award, and she was named one of the “Top 10 Most Influential African-Americans” on the 2001 Black Equal Opportunity Employment Journal list.

Professor Randall hasn’t always been associated with the study or practice of law. “I grew up during Jim Crow in the South,” she says. “If you were a black woman going to college, you either became a nurse or a teacher.” She chose nursing. She did like the profession, though, and had worked in nursing homes while in high school. As a nurse, Professor Randall provided public health nursing services and served as an administrator for a statewide health program in Alaska.

Involved in public health work for more than 15 years, Professor Randall focused on eliminating disparities in health care for minorities and the poor. She believed a thorough knowledge of the law would help her become more effective in her mission, so she enrolled in law school. After graduating in 1987 from Lewis and Clark Law School, she became an associate with a Portland, Oregon, law firm specializing in health care law and issues relating to health and disability insurance coverage. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at Lewis and Clark College.

She soon turned to teaching full time, wanting to make a “greater intellectual impact.” She has never regretted the decision. “I love the ‘a-ha!’ moments that students get,” she says.

Since coming to the School of Law, Professor Randall has also served as a consultant to the Clinton administration advisory committee on health care reform and as a grant reviewer for the National Institute of Health. She was also an expert witness in the State of Missouri v. Philip Morris trial. She has been recognized in Who’s Who in the World since 1995 and Who’s Who in the United States since 1998.

Professor Randall retired from the University of Dayton School of Law in April 2013 and is no longer making the day to day decisions of RJN! although she still develops the Ohio school discipline report card on behalf of RJN! annually.

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar

Co-Founder/ Dignity in School Field Organizer

Zakiya is the Dignity in Schools Campaign National Field Organizer and Co-Founder of Racial Justice NOW! (RJN) in Dayton, Ohio.

Throughout her organizing and advocacy at RJN! Zakiya trained, educated and acted as an advocate on behalf of other parents at suspension and expulsion hearings and at IEP meetings. She also engaged in policy work at the local, state, and federal level pushing for systemic changes in how schools serve African American students and families.

Locally, Zakiya represented RJN! on the Dayton Public Schools Student Code of Conduct Committee and Policy Committee and on the family and community engagement committee for the Dayton & Montgomery County Preschool Promise initiative. Additionally, Zakiya represented RJN! on the Miami Valley Black Health Coalition and the Kinship Care Coalition of Dayton-Center for Healthy Communities.

In statewide work, Zakiya represented RJN! on the steering committee for the Ohio Juvenile Justice Alliance and worked in close partnership with the Advocates for Basic Legal Equality and the Ohio Poverty Law Center.

Nationally, Zakiya was the Co-Chair of the Dignity in Schools Campaign which is a national coalition of youth, parents, educators, lawyers and advocates working to ensure children are treated with dignity and fairness in schools.

Zakiya is the recipient of several awards including the 2015 “Drum Major for Justice Award” from the Dayton Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The 2015 Dayton’s own “Black Excellence Award” from the Dayton Chapter of the Nation of Islam. And the 2016 “Community Advocacy Award” from the Advocates for Basic Legal Equality.

Zakiya studied Organizational Leadership at Wittenberg University and worked as a human resource specialist for the State of Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities for nearly 11 years before transitioning to her role as Co-Founder & Director of RJN!

Zakiya resides in Dayton, Ohio with her husband H.A. Jabar and their 2 children.

Hashim Jabar

Interim Director

RJN! Communications Coordinator, Hashim Jabar, will transition into his new role as the interim Director. Mr. Jabar has served in this capacity since 2014 through organizing events and press conferences, developing relationships with media, online fundraising and mass communications distribution. Most recently, Mr. Jabar 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.

Mr. Jabar’s wealth of experience on a local and national level in organizing, campaigning, and fundraising for racial justice and social change promises a continued dedication and commitment to the future of Racial Justice NOW! We welcome him as he is passed the torch to further the vision to eliminate institutional and system racism.

Ty Alston

Organizing Director

Ty is originally from Atlanta Georgia, and has spent the better part of four years attending the University of Dayton where he not only received Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in sociology, but played football at the Division 1 level. He has dedicated his life’s work to the dismantling of systemic and institutional racism and is committed to achieving this goal through whatever appropriate means are necessary. Ty is excited about partnering with Racial Justice NOW! and continuing the exemplary work done by the organization thus far.

“We’re thrilled to have a new staff member join us. We are excited about the future and the growth of our organization and Ty brings a wealth of lived experience that will help us push our work forward.”

says former RJN Executive Director,  Zakiya Sankara-Jabar

Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men.” – Marcus Garvey 

Cameron

Parent Organizer

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