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


Partner Profile

Events in February

Top Stories in January 2021

Letter from the Executive Directors
From Allison Riggs and Ryan Roberson

This past month has been historic for a number of reasons. Amidst a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitolthe likes of which this country has not experienced since 1812the 46th president of the United States has been sworn in. We also now have the first woman, first Black and first South Asian vice president of the United States. And on January 22nd, the first Black defense secretary in U.S. history, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, was confirmed in a 93-2 vote.

On Wednesday, January 6th, a day when Congress was to complete their count of electoral votes, White supremacists attacked our democracy, fueled by lies peddled by leaders desperate to overturn the will of the voters. As disgraceful as the attack itself was, we are not—and cannot be—oblivious to the stark contrast in police response to the deadly U.S. Capitol attack as the Black Lives Matter protests held throughout the country last year. We’ve seen police target and kill Black people, and violently repress those protesting for equal justice. What we witnessed on January 6th was treason and an act of domestic terrorism, and the politicians who empowered these mobs must be held to account.

Amidst the grave challenges, we also celebrate all we have achieved as voters and volunteers, organizers and activists who turned out in record numbers to make this a place of liberty and justice for all. Despite the pandemic, economic crisis, and deliberate barriers set to keep Black, young and new Americans from voting, we elected new leaders to deliver relief, distribute vaccines, and create a better future for us all. It’s our time now to have a government that cares for us, with leaders who demonstrate the courage of real convictions and an absolute allegiance to uphold our freedoms and our rights. Politicians must now unite to affirm that the will of the people prevailed in our election, hold any elected leaders who have done us harm accountable, and pledge to work with the new administration to address the challenges we face. This is how we move forward together, assured that all who represent us govern in our name and deliver what our families need. Together, we can make this a country where all of us can thrive.

Let January 20th be a day of reignited hope and optimism for a better future. As our new president said, "Together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity. Love and healing. Greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us."

Lies and insurrection did not alter the transfer of power. Democracy prevailed. The nation can and will move forward. The events of January 6th showed us that there is still much work to be done, and we will continue fighting for justice for all.

Amanda Gorman's powerful words spoken during the Inauguration ring true, now and for always: "There is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it." Let us all be the light that guides the way forward.

In Solidarity,

Allison Riggs and Ryan Roberson

Co-Interim Executive Directors

Key resources, noteworthy projects, etc.


The Youth Justice Project (YJP) of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice launched a coordinated effort to end the school-to-prison pipeline and achieve educational justice in Durham Public Schools (DPS). The #LiberateToEducate campaign envisions a future in which students of color attend schools that lift them up, provide spaces focused on improving students’ mental health, and create greater academic and cultural inclusion with the support of governmental initiatives, teachers, and administrators.

The #LiberateToEducate policy platform calls for DPS to:

1. Remove police from schools and end the contract with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

2. End the use of exclusionary discipline and fully implement school-wide restorative justice programs.

3. Liberate the school environment with more choice in course selection and ending academic tracking.

4. Require all schools to implement culturally relevant curriculums.

5. Establish mental health spaces and safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ students in schools that are available during and after school hours.

Partner Profile
Monthly feature of our partners' work

League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters (LWV) encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. LWV envisions a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate, and believes in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy. LWV members are passionate activists who support the League's work in all 50 states and in more than 700 communities.

People Powered Fair Maps

This year, People Powered Fair Mapsa national redistricting program of the League of Women Voters focused on creating fair political maps nationwide—is kicking into high gear as state legislatures redraw maps based on the 2020 Census data. The program includes actions in all 50 states + Washington, DC.

The work will look different in each state, but the program is comprised of five major focus areas:

1. Ballot Initiatives or Referendums

2. State Constitutional Options

3. State Legislative Fixes

4. Federal Legislative Fixes

5. Civic Engagement & Education

H.R. 1: For the People Act

LWV is strengthening its efforts to push for passage of the For the People Act, legislation first introduced in 2019 that seeks to expand automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, online voter registration, and end political and racial gerrymandering once and for all. Other key components of H.R. 1 include: a focus on restoring the Voting Rights Act (VRA), ethics reform, and a new public financing system.

Read the League's press release published on January 5.

Events in February
Follow us on social media to stay up to date and register!

Wednesday, 2/10 - Friday, 2/12: Texas CROWD Academy #1

State Partner: Fair Maps Texas

Monday, 2/15, Wednesday, 2/17 and Friday, 2/19: Alabama CROWD Academy

State Partners: Southern Poverty Law Center, Alabama Forward

Wednesday, 2/17: Charlotte Chapter of the National Black MBA Association's Black History Month panel: "The 15th Amendment: The Marathon Continues"

Featuring: Allison Riggs

Wednesday, 2/24 - Friday, 2/26: Texas CROWD Academy #2

State Partner: Fair Maps Texas

Saturday, 2/27: LWV of Louisiana's Redistricting that Respects Democracy webinar series

Featuring: Allison Riggs

Top Stories in January 2021

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8 Articles
abc13 Eyewitness News
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Texas 2021 redistricting process will impact state politics for the next 10 years. Here's how it'll work.

Published Jan 4, 2021 by Yasmeen Khalifa

When the Texas Legislature meets in 2021, lawmakers are expected to take on the complicated and contentious process of redistricting - the decennial redrawing of maps for the state's congressional, legislative and State Board of Education boundaries.

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Fewer Rejected Ballots Seemed to Be a Win for Voter Access. Trump and Others Disagree.

Published Jan 4, 2021

In Philadelphia, the feared avalanche of naked ballots arrived well dressed. Election officials in October worried that up to 40,000 ballots would be rejected in the general election because they had not been put into a secrecy envelope before being mailed in a second envelope.
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New Youth-Led Campaign Wants Cops Out of Durham Schools

Published Jan 12, 2021 by Thomasi McDonald

A group of student activists is about to launch a campaign to remove law enforcement from Durham Public Schools. At the heart of the effort is the activists’ call for the removal of sheriff’s deputies who work as school resource officers (or SROs), at Durham’s 17 public schools.

NC Policy Watch
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Youth Justice Project seeks racial reform in use of suspensions, school resource officers in Durham

Published Jan 14, 2021 by Greg Childress

Nicholas Brown, a 16-year-old junior at Jordan High School in Durham, discussed his experiences interacting with School Resource Officers.
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Voting Groups Warn Texas Lawmakers Aren't Making It Easy For People Who Want A Say In Redistricting

Published Jan 17, 2021 by Ashley Lopez

Voting groups say redistricting plans the Texas Senate laid out in a resolution passed Wednesday do not reasonably accommodate public input. 

NC Policy Watch
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Fewer people voted illegally in 2020, but voting rights groups want the state to stop punishing people who say they voted by mistake.  

Published Jan 21, 2021 by Lynn Bonner

People on felony probation or parole can be prosecuted for voting illegally even if they don’t know they’re ineligible. Fewer people were suspected of illegally voting while on probation or parole for a felony in the 2020 general election compared with 2016, according to a state review.

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‘When You Come To School, You Forfeit Your Rights’

Published Jan 21, 2021 by Terrace

In 2008, a child at Middle Creek High School in nearby Cary was tazed so severely that one of their lungs collapsed. On another occasion in September of 2010, a Raleigh officer deployed pepper spray to disperse a fight.
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Wake County promised to reconsider cops in schools. When they didn't, students took to the streets.

Published Jan 26, 2021 by Courtney Napier

The battle to abolish School Resource Officers in North Carolina has lasted over a decade. Current students want better for future generations. This is the second story in a two-part series about Wake County students organizing against police brutality.

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