SCSJ Digest
The Monthly Newsletter of SCSJ's Top News

Welcome to SCSJ Digest, the monthly newsletter of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice! At the beginning of every month, we'll send you a roundup of the top stories from the previous month, along with relevant updates, e.g., key resources, upcoming events, and noteworthy projects. If you have any recommendations on additional topics you want to read about, please let us know. We hope you enjoy this newsletter!


Letter from the Executive Directors


Student Showcase

Top Stories in October 2020

Letter from the Executive Directors
From Allison Riggs and Ryan Roberson

This year has been a year unlike any other, and this election season has also proven to be unprecedented. We are on the cusp of one of the most important Election Days this country has ever seen. It is crucial for every single eligible voter to cast their vote.

Even though 2020 has posed many challenges we did not anticipate a year ago, voters have cast their ballots in record numbers. More than 93 million votes have already been cast in the United States overall, and more than 4.5 million votes have been cast in our home state of North Carolina. These numbers surpass early voting in 2016. While this is a healthy indicator, we must remain vigilant. If you voted already, please encourage others to do so. Tomorrow, November 3rd, is your last chance to vote, and there is a lot at stake this year. For example, the people we elect to represent us locally this year will be responsible for the redistricting process next year. This election cycle is not about the next two or four years, but voting this year will impact the next 10 years: our policies, allocation of resources, and budgets reflect our values, and redistricting will impact all of these areas and more. We must ensure our votes and our voices are consistent with our values.

While the numbers so far have been encouraging to see, we cannot get complacent. Please make your voice heard and head to the polls tomorrow for your last chance to vote! Every eligible voter must have their voice heard and their vote counted accurately. While this means it will take longer to count the votesespecially given the record-breaking numbers of absentee ballots submittedand verify a winner in this year's election, this is a good sign that our democracy is working. And because of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in our case to allow North Carolina voters to fix, or "cure," their absentee ballots with minor errors on them, we now have the assurance that every vote cast will be counted as long as they are received by November 12. Thank you for your support as we cross the finish line and move forward together.

In Solidarity,

Allison Riggs and Ryan Roberson

Co-Interim Executive Directors

Key resources, noteworthy projects, etc.


Since 2015, the Education Justice Alliance demanded #CounselorsNotCops and #PoliceFreeSchools. This plan includes the replacement of all police in the Wake County Public School System with Peacebuilders who are trained to use restorative justice and not violence or criminalization.

For years, the Wake County School Board made no tangible steps to implement #CounselorsNotCops. This led to instances of police brutality in Rolesville and Knightdale High School in 2016 and 2017.

Black and Latinx students have suffered due to the Wake County School Board's inaction. Together with the Wake County Black Student Coalition, SCSJ's Youth Justice Project, and ACLU of North Carolina, the Education Justice Alliance explains Peacebuilders and their School Board demands.

Join our movement

Watch #CounselorsNotCops: Wake County Black Student Coalition Demands

Watch #CounselorsNotCops: Peacebuilders & School Board Demands

It's time for ALL students to feel safe in schools.

Counselors Not Cops_Stats

Umar Muhammad Clean Slate Toolkit

Umar Muhammad was an upbeat, passionate advocate who committed his life to helping people of color who were impacted by the criminal justice system. He joined SCSJ in 2014, where he fought against the discrimination of justice-involved individuals. He was a community organizer and leader in All of Us or None, an organization that lifts up the voices of those most affected by mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex.

Through SCSJ and All of Us or None, Umar helped organize numerous Clean Slate Clinics that served more than 60 counties throughout North Carolina. These clinics supported individuals working to address the collateral consequences of having a criminal record, including barriers to employment, housing, and occupational licenses.

The purpose of this toolkit is to empower people with a step-by-step guide to remove charges and convictions from their criminal record so they may economically and socially better their lives. We dedicate this toolkit to Umar, who opened every Clean Slate Clinic by stating, "You are not the sum of your worst mistakes."

CleanSlate-Toolkit_v3 Cover

CROWD Academy Fellows

Earlier this year, we launched the CROWD Academy Fellowship. For the next two years, CROWD Fellows, who previously completed one of our CROWD Academy trainings, will educate their communities on the redistricting process and different intervention points, monitor the redistricting process, and propose alternative maps. Our CROWD Academy Fellows will work closely with partner organizations during the 2020-2022 redistricting cycle. We are excited to support these change-makers during the redistricting process. Get to know our Fellows!

CROWD Fellows

New Videos and Infographic

SCSJ has sponsored four videos for this election season: (1) American Democracy is Worth the Wait; (2) Life of a Ballot; (3) It's Time to Get This Right; and (4) Who Runs Our Election.

Watch these videos on our website and our new YouTube channel.

We have also created a new infographic, Know Your Rights: Poll Monitors, Poll Workers, and Helping Others. If you are a poll monitor or poll worker serving your community during the 2020 General Election, this guide will help you feel comfortable and confident when assisting voters at polling places.

Download this and our other new infographics on our website.

Student Showcase
Resources created by SCSJ's student volunteers and interns

This semester, SCSJ is collaborating with NC State University to host six student interns and volunteers. Students will use their unique skills and talents to promote social and racial justice by creating digital, visual, and written content.

SCSJ's Creative Intern, Sarah Curry, has created three visual pieces, while our Design Intern, Emma Daniel, has created a short video on the #CounselorsNotCops campaign. See Sarah's artwork below and Emma's video on our website and YouTube channel!

Sarah Art_10.29.2020
Top Stories in October 2020

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6 Articles
Daily Tar Heel
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Higher rate of deficiencies reported in absentee ballots cast by Black voters in NC

Published Oct 7, 2020 by Sofia Lesnewski

With four weeks to go until Election Day, over one million North Carolina voters have requested absentee ballots and nearly 390,000 voters have returned them. This marks a significant increase in Nort…
The New Republic
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North Carolina’s Labyrinthine Voting Nightmare

Published Oct 8, 2020 by Nick Martin

Guilford County, the third most populous in North Carolina, is currently facing something of an electoral crisis. Earlier this month, data provided by the U.S. Elections Project at the University of F…
American Civil Liberties Union
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Let People Vote: Our Fight for Your Right to Vote During 2020

Published Oct 14, 2020 by Dale Ho

2020 has been an unprecedented year in many ways; a pandemic during a presidential election being one of them. Not unique to 2020, however, is politicians’ and states’ systematic efforts to suppress v…
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Judge: North Carolina must strengthen absentee witness rule

Published Oct 14, 2020 by Jonathan Drew

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge ordered North Carolina on Wednesday to ensure that absentee ballots have a witness signature in a mixed ruling that allows voters to fix other minor problems witho…
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Southern Coalition for Social Justice Launches New Toolkit to Help Navigate Expungement Process

Published Oct 22, 2020 by Web Manager

Search Southern Coalition for Social Justice × Southern Coalition for Social Justice Launches New Toolkit to Help Navigate Expungement Process October 21, 2020336-553-1733 (office)336-823-5501 —The So…
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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Protections for North Carolinians Who Voted by Mail

Published Oct 29, 2020 by Web Manager

Search Southern Coalition for Social Justice × Search SCSJ... U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Protections for North Carolinians Who Voted by Mail Durham, N.C. — In a 5-3 decision, the United States Supreme…
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