EJS 20th Anniversary – Reflecting on 2018: Resisting Assaults on Our Democracy

Judge Bernice Donald, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (left) moderates a panel at our 2018 Mind Science Conference: “Fighting Racism and Other Forms of Bias: What’s Working!?” with panelists (seated left to right) Prof. Jerry Kang, Rachel Godsil, Nancy Dome, and Prof. Margaret Russell.

2020 is the 20th anniversary of the Equal Justice Society. Our celebration this year on September 17 will be virtual and we’re working on an exciting and engaging program including an oratorio by Marcus Shelby inspired by the courage of Harriet Tubman and by the two decades of EJS. Every week leading up to the celebration, we will highlight one year in our history.


This week we remember 2018, when EJS stepped up its efforts with allies to resist the numerous assaults on our democracy.

EJS-Produced Video Features “Jack McCoy” Drawing the Line on Firing Rosenstein – On April 16, TrumpIsNotAboveTheLaw.org, a collaborative effort of dozens of organizations from across the political and ideological spectrum, released a video featuring Sam Waterston, the Academy Award nominated star of The Killing Fields and NBC’s Law & Order. The brainchild of Eva Paterson, the video was produced and directed by Valerie Stadler, written by Linda Burstyn and Norm Eisen, and edited by Eurie Chung. In the video, Waterston introduces Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, “the most important U.S. prosecutor you’ve never heard of,” and the DOJ official overseeing Robert Mueller. He discusses how Trump firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be the first step to firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

Eva Paterson Op-ed on Kavanaugh in SF Chronicle – “Opinion: Kavanaugh will undermine progress made on justice for all” by Eva Paterson was published on September 5 in the San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: “Brett Kavanaugh has been nominated by President Trump to fill the vacancy created by the premature retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Civil rights activists, abortion rights advocates, the disability rights community, and those concerned with limiting the authority of the executive branch are alarmed by this nomination. As an African American civil rights attorney who has been practicing law since 1975, I am certain that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, the hands of the judicial clock will be turned back to the ’50s — and by that I mean the 1850s.”

EJS Mind Science Conference: Fighting Racism and Other Forms of Bias: What’s Working!? – On June 22-23, EJS held a Mind Science Conference at the Oakland Marriott City Center. This conference was made possible through generous grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Henry L. Hecht Family Fund, The California Wellness Foundation, The California Endowment, and Open Society Foundations. In 2017, EJS hosted the Resilience of Racism Conference, which explored mind science concepts such as implicit bias and racial anxiety in an effort to better understand and ameliorate racism in all of its manifestations while also acknowledging the unfortunate resurgence of white supremacy. Building upon the foundation of understanding racism and its impact, the “Fighting Racism and Other Forms of Bias: What’s Working!?” was a more intimate two-day convening of activists, academics, and attorneys focused on how we can reduce or counteract bias.

Court Says Antioch School District Must Face Trial on Agreement to Remedy Bias against Black Students – In February, a state court rejected the Antioch Unified School District’s (AUSD’s) attempt to renege on an agreement made with the East County NAACP to address federal civil rights and disability rights violations against African American students. AUSD agreed in March 2015 to retain experts to investigate the District’s alleged discriminatory practices. The experts—chosen from the fields of school discipline, special education, and social psychology—were to make recommendations to address discrimination, which stemmed in part from implicit bias. Although the District initially complied with its obligations under the agreement, it ultimately refused to move forward, and the experts were unable to complete their investigation or recommendations as a result. Attorneys for East County NAACP were forced to sue the District in 2016 for breaking their promise.

EJS Restarts Judge Constance Baker Motley Fellowship – Elizabeth J. Cabraser’s generous gift helped the Equal Justice Society reactivate its Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellowship. Ms. Cabraser, who funded the 2001 conference that led to the founding of EJS, pledged to fund the fellowship for five years. EJS established the Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellowship in 2006 to nurture the talents of a new generation of progressive lawyers to transform anti-discrimination law and policy. Judge Motley (September 14, 1921-September 28, 2005) was the first African American woman to serve on the federal bench and the first African American woman to serve as chief judge.

EJS Report: Breaking The Chains 2: The Preschool-To-Prison Pipeline Epidemic – The increasing trend of suspending students is part of a phenomenon known as the school-to-prison pipeline (“STPP”). Equal Justice Society’s previous publication, “Breaking The Chains”, explains the STPP as the process by which at-risk high school and middle school students are pushed out of learning environments and into the juvenile justice system. A new report, “Breaking The Chains 2: The Preschool-To-Prison Pipeline Epidemic”, launched on October 10, aimed to broaden the scope of this inquiry by detailing how disproportionate discipline in preschool through 3rd grade can inhibit a child’s social development and academic success.

We welcome sponsorships to our 20th anniversary virtual celebration on September 17, 2020. The evening will include an oratorio by Marcus inspired by the courage of Harriet Tubman and by the two decades of EJS. Please contact Ginger Johnson at gjohnson@equaljusticesociety.org for more information. Thank you!

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