Transitions off DSC Coordinating Committee, leaves legacy as National Co-Chairs
As Black parent organizers in the state of Ohio, Racial Justice NOW! found a strong national ally in the Dignity in Schools Campaign(DSC). Since 2013, RJN! has been one of the more than 127 members, in 27 states and Washington, D.C. under the DSC umbrella that lends their voices in taking a strong stance on dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline and decreasing the highly disproportionate occurrences of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. Shortly after joining DSC, due to diligent work ethic, a profound political analysis, and the ability to make change happen, RJN! became DSC Coordinating Committee (CC) members and was also elected as national co-chairs of the campaign.
Liz Sullivan, NESRI Education Campaigns Director says, “Racial Justice NOW! has shown tremendous leadership in DSC through their role on the Coordinating Committee over the past four years, introducing their culturally relevant curriculum campaign to the membership, supporting parent leadership in the coalition and serving as co-chair. I look forward to their continued leadership in DSC!”
Through the years RJN! led its local campaigns to change the systemic problems within its own school district, while helping DSC and its membership lead campaigns all over the country. From federal legislation to grassroots policy implementation, RJN! has been helping the Dignity in Schools Campaign fight for education justice across the country. By serving on numerous committees and providing input to members and partners and contributing to shaping the member-led campaign- RJN! has been at the forefront of changing the face of education as we know it. From its humble beginnings in the apartment of University of Dayton Law Professor Vernelia Randall, RJN! has been dedicated to making a difference for Black families in education and beyond.
“It was my pleasure coming onto the DSC Coordinating Committee and working alongside RJN! and seeing their genuine passion to see that our children have the best and are deserving of educational opportunity afforded to them,” Karen Lynn Morton Co-Chair Emeritus POWER PAC, Founder & Executive Director The Woman of God’s Design Ministry, Co-Chair Dignity in Schools Campaign Coordinating Committee
In 2017 RJN! co-founder and Executive Director, Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, transitioned into the position of National Field Organizer for the campaign, appointing her husband, Hashim Jabar to serve as the Interim Executive Director.
During Racial Justice NOW!’s tenure as national co-chairs, they helped DSC:
- Become more accommodating to parents who are doing the work to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline by ushering in new protocols that included a childcare stipend and paying for childcare at DSC meetings and events.
- Provide the Culturally Relevant Toolkit as a member resource.
- As Fundraising and Finance committee Co-chairs, helped secure over $1 million in funds from the Kellogg Foundation, Open Society Foundation, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, and the Andrus Family Fund to support our 127 members in 27 states including the District of Columbia. These funds have helped to:
- Develop the new DSC website with increased functionality
- Hire new staff members
- Establish and implement an annual national event during the Week of Action, and,
- Successfully support DSC Youth on an international platform, including the 2017 United Nations Youth Assembly during International Youth Day, representing the interest of Sustainable Development Goal #4 – Quality Education.
As of July 2018, Racial Justice NOW! has fulfilled the maximum amount of terms possible for a Coordinating Committee member organization, and has officially transitioned off of the CC.
“We are grateful to have had the unique opportunity to help lead this campaign. We have achieved much and there is more to be done. We are sure that we have left it stronger than it was. We have learned a great deal, met some wonderful people, and will continue the work of ending the school to prison pipeline.”
H.A. Jabar, Interim Executive Director, Racial Justice NOW!