Letter from Executive Director
Lenice C. Emanuel, MLA
Standing in the gap for women and people of color remains necessary to advance a just and equitable society. To that end, efforts must be intentional about building power bases for social change. The Alabama Institute for Social Justice (AISJ) is just such an organization, dedicated to empowering those most negatively impacted by the conditions that often result in families living in cycles of poverty.
Growing up in Alabama, I had the great fortune of being raised by parents who attended college in Montgomery, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement. Their experiences during a time of segregation and Jim Crow laws deeply influenced my upbringing. I understood, at an early age, my place in the struggle for equity and justice for all. Over 50 years later, many of the same injustices they faced remain, often in a different form, posing significant opportunities to progress a movement for change today.
The statistical data is clear that in Alabama, women and people of color are the most adversely affected by social injustices. Inequities in societal structures have been well documented, including low-wage employment with limited to no upward mobility, inadequate child care, higher incarceration rates with stricter sentencing, discriminatory policing, racial profiling, and wide disparities in access to education, housing, health care, civic engagement, and paths to prosperity and longevity.
While strides have been made since the days of legislated segregation, there is still much work to be done to bring the ultimate dream of equality, justice, and peace into fruition. The encouraging backlash evidenced in the face of recent expressions of racism have been heartening, as well as steadfastly peaceful responses of opposition toward those who aim to stoke unwarranted fear of “the other” in our everyday lives. Wherever it occurs, the philosophy of divide-and-conquer must be resisted by one of unify-and-empower.
Inequity impoverishes everyone, not just those being discriminated against. Each of us has a role to play in advancing equality. It is the goal of AISJ to help inform and inspire all citizens of Alabama to reach for the highest goal to which our nation aspires, that of liberty and justice for all.