The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice uses cutting-edge racial and social justice advocacy to empower people of color by building reparative systems that create wealth, transform justice and harness democratic power—from the ground up—in New Jersey.



“Black people have and will continue to be
the perfecters of this democracy.”

-Nikole Hannah-Jones



The Institute was thrilled to award our largest honor, the Alan V. and Amy Lowenstein Social Justice Award, to Nikole Hannah-Jones at our 15th Annual Gala on Nov. 10, 2020.

Click to watch our 2020 Gala

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and creator of the NYT 1619 Project, Nikole urges us to see America as it really is, and to look with clear vision at the lasting legacy of slavery on every aspect of modern-day life.

At our Gala, Nikole joined Institute President/CEO Ryan Haygood for an in-depth discussion on the role of race in the extraordinary moment we are living through – and the necessary work ahead.

We also honored four other powerful Black women at our event, hosted other special guests including Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and enjoyed some powerful musical entertainment.

Please watch




In December 2019 – as a result of the collective advocacy of the 1844 No More Campaign led by the Institute – Governor Murphy signed into law voting rights restoration for 83,000 people on probation and parole in New Jersey.

One of those 83,000 was Ron Pierce, the institute’s Democracy & Justice Fellow, whose political voice was silenced for 34 years.

Watch this screening of Voter, a 15-minute documentary about Ron’s journey from a family where voting was everything, to being incarcerated and losing the vote, to becoming a lead voting rights advocate in NJ.

The screening, held with our partners at NJPAC, is complemented by a discussion including remarks from Governor Murphy, Asw. Shavonda Sumter and other people who have had their votes restored.

Hear from NJ Youth about What They Need to Stay Out of the Criminal Justice System


Marking Juneteenth: The Ongoing Quest for Freedom in New Jersey

Watch our Juneteenth panel of Institute experts discussing how to #DoRacialJustice in this critical moment.


In the News

New Jersey Election Protection Coalition Releases Report on 2020 General Election

April 29, 2021


Report Analyzes Eleven Key Challenges Experienced by Voters

NEWARK – The New Jersey Election Protection Coalition (the “Coalition”) today released a report (the “Report”) analyzing issues New Jersey voters encountered during the November 3, 2020 general election, including in the weeks leading up to it beginning on October 15. A full copy of the Report can be found here.

The Report highlights the challenges posed in an election run during a global pandemic and notes that, despite these challenges, New Jersey administered a safe and sound election. Indeed, the data show significant successes: more than 400,000 voters used a new online voter registration system that launched the month before the voter registration deadline, and turnout was historically high. At the same time, issues reported by voters throughout the state and verified by Election Protection volunteers reveal that the procedural changes necessitated by the pandemic did not always go smoothly and that some longer-term problems resurfaced in this election.

The Coalition consists of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the Delaware-New Jersey National Lawyers Guild, Disability Rights New Jersey, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Lowenstein Sandler LLP and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Reacts to Chauvin Trial Verdict

April 20, 2021



New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Reacts to Chauvin Trial Verdict


NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today reacted to the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

The following can be attributed to Ryan Haygood, President & CEO:

“America let out a breath today because legal justice was served.

“Even in this case, where we saw with our own eyes a police officer crush the life out of George Floyd, history did not forecast this verdict with any certainty.

“Yet even as we acknowledge legal justice in this one case, we must remember that real justice would mean that George Floyd was still alive.

“True justice would mean that Mr. Floyd would have the opportunity to see his children and grandchildren grow up. And so much more.

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Statement on Passing of Melville “De” Miller

April 06, 2021


New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Statement on Passing of Melville “De” Miller


April 6, 2021

NEWARK – It is with great sadness, respect and appreciation that the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice acknowledges the recent death of Melville “De” Miller and expresses our deepest condolences to his family and all those who mourn his passing.

De’s life-long commitment to New Jersey’s most impoverished residents was seen in how he built and led Legal Services of New Jersey and its Poverty Research Institute. His enormous advocacy skills, always grounded in the lived experience of individuals and families who had the least and suffered the most, were combined with a keen understanding of the law – both what it was and what it should be. His legacy is reflected most profoundly in how he sought to make real and tangible our nation’s aspiration that everyone should have access to justice – not only those with the resources to obtain it.

Given the significant challenges we face, we have only two options: to embrace chaos or embrace community. We choose community. Join us as we work to bend our neighborhoods toward the beloved community.


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