FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–June 26, 2020

Looking Back on a Powerful Juneteenth Week

The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and our partners celebrated Juneteenth by fighting for racial justice in a weeklong series of events and actions.

NEW ORLEANS, LA | June 26, 2020—Juneteenth couldn’t have come at a better time this year. It gave us an opportunity to add layers of depth and history to the current national and international reckoning with racism. At the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice (PCEJ–http://powercoalition.org), we made the most of that inspired timing by celebrating liberation with a week of digital events, outdoor actions, and policy advocacy.

“Our week of Juneteenth actions and engagements showed the full scope of the work we do and the deep partnerships we have across the state,” said Morgan Shannon, PCEJ director of strategic partnerships. “The Power Coalition’s commitment to equity and justice is shaped by the fundamental idea that we can achieve more together than we can separately.”

Monday: We welcomed a diverse group of faith leaders from across the state to ground us in faith and healing. We want to thank Kaitlyn Joshua, Rabbi Lexi Erdheim, Sonya Lars, Reverend Gregory T. Manning, Deacon Reggie Seymour, Jenny Yanez, and Raymond J. Jetson for their healing words. Watch the recording HERE.

Tuesday: We hosted a virtual kickback with college students where we cultivated a thoughtful space and built momentum for the work ahead. We also announced that the Power Coalition will be offering $100,000 in mini-grants to community centers and churches around Louisiana to engage their populations in Census work. Watch the College Kickback recording HERE.

At the State Capitol, we advocated for two resolutions–HCR 14 and HCR 15, both sponsored by Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman–that would have given the public greater knowledge and insight into the redistricting process. Unfortunately, both resolutions failed to make it out of the House & Governmental Affairs committee.

Wednesday: We hosted a conversation with the striking City Waste Union workers, known as “Hoppers,” in New Orleans. Mr. Earl Ueal, who took part in the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike, also joined us to help ground the conversation in its proper historical context. Watch the conversation HERE. Learn more about their demands HERE.

In an attempt to turn protest into policy, we worked with advocates and activists to support HB 51, by Rep. Edmond Jordan, which would have eliminated Qualified Immunity in Louisiana. Watch it HERE (starting at the 2:27:00 mark).

Thursday: We spent the morning in the House Administration of Criminal Justice committee advocating for House Resolution 9, by Rep. Rodney Lyons, and Senate Concurrent Resolution 7, Sen. Cleo Fields. HR 9 starts a process that could lead to Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office requiring body cams in the department. SCR 7 initiates a task force to study policing. Both passed the committee unanimously and appear to be on their way to passage.

Juneteenth–Friday 

Part 1: We partnered with the YWCA of Greater Baton Rouge to bond out 13 people who were trapped in the East Baton Rouge Jail because they couldn’t afford bail. None of the 13 had been found guilty, and one of them had been in jail for two years without being charged with a crime. Our criminal legal system has created a system of modern-day debtors prisons. This system is immoral on its face, but it also creates ripples of negative outcomes. When people can’t afford bail, they are at risk of losing their jobs, their housing, and their children.

Part 2: We joined Voice of the Experienced (VOTE) in their march to the gates of Angola Prison. Louisiana has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. We have not forgotten our incarcerated brothers and sisters, and we will continue to work so that they too are free.

Saturday: We showed up at outdoor events all over Louisiana, including Shreveport, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge to pass out PPE and sample ballots for the July 11 elections. We also registered people to vote and helped folks complete the Census.

In New Orleans, we rallied to support the striking Hoppers and their City Waste Union. The event began at Pratt Park, where the Hoppers spoke to a crowd of hundreds about why they have been on strike for six weeks. Then we marched to the mansion of Jimmie Woods, who owns Metro Services Group, the sanitation company the workers are striking against.

The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice works to build voice and power in traditionally ignored communities. We are a coalition of groups from across Louisiana whose mission is to organize in impacted communities, educate and turn out voters, and fight for policies that create a more equitable and just system in Louisiana.

Who: Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), YWCA Greater Baton Rouge

What: Recap of Power Coalition’s Juneteenth Week of Action, including digital events, outdoor actions, and policy advocacy.

When: June 15-20

Contacts:

Ashley Shelton, Executive Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (225) 802-2435, ashelton@powercoalition.org

Peter Robins-Brown, Communications Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (504) 256-8196, prb@powercoalition.org