As you prepare for the holiday season, help your audiences get ready for effective and meaningful family conversations about racial justice and economic opportunity. Refer to values of equity, voice, and community.
On December 18, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was officially approved. The amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. This exception is often discussed in today’s discussions about criminal justice reform (including Ava DuVernay’s documentary, “13th”). Use this anniversary to talk about the continued need for racial justice in the United States, especially in our criminal justice system. Cite the values of equity and safety.
On this day in 1994, the Department of Justice announced that the U.S. prison population surpassed one million people for the first time in history. In 2020, the number of people held in local jails and state and federal prisons dropped to roughly 1.8 million — a 14% decrease from 2.1 million in 2019. Use this anniversary to discuss the need to end money bail, release people in response to COVID-19, and end mass incarceration. Cite the values of Redemption and Voice.
The October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation has mobilized the National Day of Protest against Police Brutality every year since 1996. Cite the values of Voice, Equality, and Community.
On this day in 1792, the cornerstone of the White House was laid. As former First Lady Michelle Obama noted, she “[woke] up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” Use this anniversary to counter opposition attacks on critical race theory by lifting up the importance of an honest and truthful recounting of our nation’s legacy of racial injustice. Cite the values of Voice and Equality.
Today is World Day against the Death Penalty. Use this hook to talk about how the U.S. criminal justice system is overly punitive, costly, and racially biased. Also discuss how fewer and fewer Americans support the death penalty. Cite the values of Redemption and Voice.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) leads Mental Illness Awareness Week to challenge stigma and misunderstanding by showing that mental illness affects everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends or coworkers. This year’s MIAW is centered around the theme “What I Wish I Had Known” and focuses on the power of lived experience. Each day throughout the week, NAMI will be elevating the voices of people with lived experience to talk about the components of their recovery where they learned something that could have helped them sooner. Use this week to talk about how mental illness intersects with poverty and criminal justice. Discuss the need for government support of individuals and families dealing with mental illness. Cite the values of Community and Redemption.
International Wrongful Conviction Day was created to “raise awareness of the causes and remedies of wrongful conviction and to recognize the tremendous personal, social, and emotional costs of wrongful conviction for innocent people and their families.” Use this hook to talk about the need for criminal justice reform. Cite the values of Voice and Redemption.
Today marks two years since the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A graduate of Harvard Law School and the founding director of the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU, Ginsburg’s legacy re-wrote the rules on gender discrimination and upheld key protections on a full range of civil rights issues. Her impact transcended courts and made her a cultural icon. Her judicial record was mixed on issues of race and criminal justice, with particularly damaging decisions impacting indigenous rights. Cite the values of Voice, Equality, and Opportunity when discussing her legacy.
On this day in 1955, African-American teenager Emmett Till was abducted for allegedly offending a white woman. His brutalized body was found a few days later. Historical markers recognizing Till’s death are regularly torn down and shot at by vandals — a symbolic reminder of the ongoing threat of white supremacy poses to Black communities. Cite the values of voice, equity, and community when discussing this anniversary.