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

Student Showcase

Events in April

Top Stories in March 2021

Letter from the Executive Directors
From Allison Riggs and Ryan Roberson

Spring has officially begun, and the new season ushers in a sense of hope and resilience as more Americans continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet with the promise of restored hope comes a sense of continued despair and tragedy, as we all learned about the brazen shootings of 10 people in Boulder, Colorado on March 22 and eight people—six of whom were women of Asian descent—in Georgia on March 16. These senseless acts of hatred and violence result when racism and misogyny intersect, and unfortunately, we have seen it occur all too often. We offer our deepest sympathies to the families who lost loved ones in recent weeks, and we stand even more resolute to fight for our democratic values of equality, liberty, and justice.

In other news, we are pleased to announce that our 2019-20 Racial Equity Report Cards (RERCs) are now available online! With the help of our partner Red Hat, we've launched a more user-friendly, easily digestible overview of the RERCs that viewers can access.

The RERCs use public data to provide a snapshot of a community’s school-to-prison pipeline, including any racial disproportionalities that exist in the pipeline. There is a Report Card for each of the state’s 115 school districts and one for our home state of North Carolina as a whole.

This year’s report cards primarily use 2019-2020 academic year data, which is limited due to the impact COVID-19 had on schools and students. For example, North Carolina did not release data on end-of-grade and end-of-course tests at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, so this data is not available for inclusion in this year’s report cards.

Key findings of the 2019-2020 North Carolina RERC include:

• Black students were 3.9 times more likely than white students to receive a short-term suspension.

• Statewide, 29.9% of all juvenile referrals to the criminal justice system came from schools, down significantly from 45.1% in the 2018-2019 RERC. However, Black students remain disproportionately impacted, accounting for 49.0% of all incidents being referred to the criminal justice system compared to 35.2% among white students.

• While 54.5% of students in North Carolina schools are people of color, only 23% of teachers are. Having a diverse school staff is one way to help equalize opportunities for students of color.

• Latinx students are the least likely to graduate from high school in four years, with statewide graduation rates of 81.7%. In comparison, 90.8% of white students graduate in four years.

Read more about the most-recent RERCs on our website, and take a look at the image below.

Finally, we're taking a brief hiatus with our monthly newsletter and will be back later this spring or early summer. Stay tuned!

In Solidarity,

Allison Riggs and Ryan Roberson

Co-Executive Directors

Key resources, noteworthy projects, etc.

Racial Equity Report Cards

“The changes of the past year have significantly increased attention on how safe students are in the classroom. But as school districts work to ensure students are physically safe in schools amid COVID-19 concerns, they also need to take action to protect students from the harms of institutional inequity and racism,” said Tyler Whittenberg, SCSJ's Chief Counsel for Justice System Reform. “As indicated by the 2019-2020 RERCs, much work still needs to be done, including reducing the use of exclusionary discipline and limiting the number of students who enter the justice system via the classroom – two practices that disproportionately and detrimentally impact students of color throughout North Carolina.”

Partner Profile
Monthly feature of our partners' work

ACLU of North Carolina

Founded in 1965, the ACLU of North Carolina, an affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union, is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that stands as the state’s guardian of liberty – working in courts, the General Assembly, and communities to protect and advance civil rights and civil liberties for all North Carolinians.

The ACLU of North Carolina brings together litigation, legislative advocacy, communications, and organizing strategies to empower communities and achieve their objectives in major issue areas including criminal law reform, racial justice, LGBTQ equality, reproductive freedom, and the rights of immigrants.

Recently, the ACLU of North Carolina achieved a landmark settlement that will lead to the release of 3,500 people from NC prisons; secured more comprehensive screening and treatment for Hepatitis C for people incarcerated in North Carolina; and are part of a newly formed immigrants’ rights coalition challenging anti-immigrant proposals at the General Assembly.

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

Our NC State University student and Creative Intern, Sarah Curry, continues to create beautiful designs that we feature on our social media channels. Take a look at some of her work below!

Sarah Art_03.22.2021
Events in April
Follow us on social media to stay up to date and register!

Thursday, 4/22: Ella Baker Panel

Featuring: Tyler Whittenberg

Tuesday, 4/27 - Thursday, 4/29: South Carolina CROWD Academy

State Partners: SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center and SC Counts

Thursday, 4/29: Lawyers Weekly Diversity & Inclusion Virtual Awards Ceremony

Featuring: Ryan Roberson and Allison Riggs

Top Stories in March 2021

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7 Articles
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New Hanover Co. Board of Education discusses request to end suspensions among elementary schools

Published Mar 3, 2021 by Anna Phillips

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County Board of Education discussed a petition from the New Hanover County NAACP to end school suspensions among elementary schools during their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 2.

The Fayetteville Observer
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5 things you need to know about the 'driving while Black' issue in Fayetteville

Published Mar 3, 2021 by Steve DeVane

The Fayetteville Observer analyzed data that included hundreds of thousands of traffic stops and searches for a series of stories focusing on a controversy that caused an uproar in the community a decade ago.

Talking Points Memo
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The Coming Redistricting Cycle Will Test Just What Biden’s DOJ Can Do With A Gutted VRA

Published Mar 19, 2021 by Tierney Sneed

There’s no playbook for how President Biden’s Justice Department can protect minority voting rights in the coming round of redistricting. When state legislatures draw their maps later this year, it will be the first time that most of them do so since the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision in 2013.

Greenville News
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100 voices tell us what future of police should be

Published Mar 23, 2021 by Jeff Schwaner, Staunton News Leader

Crime touches millions of Americans every year. What affects more people? Police behavior. Countless daily moments of interaction, personal and impersonal, determine whether a person trusts or distrusts the police. And in hundreds of cases a year, that determines whether a person lives or dies.

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Black CMS students 7 times more likely to be suspended, report finds

Published Mar 24, 2021

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Black students are seven times more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts, according to an analysis of data from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools that revealed a deep disparity in how students are disciplined.

U.S. News & World Report
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N.C. Court to Decide if Voter Defamation Lawsuit Can Proceed

Published Mar 24, 2021 by BRYAN ANDERSON

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina appeals court panel will soon decide whether a libel complaint can proceed to trial over false accusations that representatives of former Gov. Pat McCrory made in 2016 alleging several voters had unlawfully cast multiple ballots, were ineligible due to a felony conviction or voted in the name of dead people.

NC Policy Watch
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PW special report – The battle for Alamance part 2: The modern day struggle for political representation

Published Mar 26, 2021 by Lynn Bonner

Decades after the enactment of civil rights laws, people of color remain largely excluded from the county’s political power structure. To go to Alamance County is to step back in time, to the days of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

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