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 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.

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Establishing In-Person Early Voting in NJ

March 30, 2021


Historic Legislation Continues Murphy Administration's Commitment to Expanding Access to Democracy

     TRENTON – Governor Murphy, joined by legislators and advocates including national voting rights leader Stacey Abrams, today signed legislation (
S3203), which establishes in-person early voting in the State of New Jersey. The legislation is the latest in a series of initiatives by the Murphy Administration and the Legislature to expand access to voting rights and democracy amidst a wave of voter disenfranchisement measures across the country.

     "While other states are looking to find ways to keep their citizens from voting, we have consistently worked to ensure that the voices of the people are heard," said Governor Murphy. "I am immensely proud to sign this legislation today and to remind the nation that our democracy wins when we open the doors of our polling places wide instead of slamming them shut."

     "As New Jersey's chief election officer, I welcome this opportunity to make our state even more voter-friendly," said Secretary of State Tahesha Way. "In person early voting will strengthen our democracy by providing voters with more options to cast their ballot."

New Jersey Legislature Passes Two Bills to Make Voting More Accessible

March 30, 2021



New Jersey Legislature Passes Two Bills to Make Voting More Accessible

Legislation to Establish Early Voting and Allow Equitable Dropbox Placement Ready for Governor’s Signature  


NEWARK – The New Jersey Legislature today passed two pro-democracy bills that will help make voting more robust and accessible to voters in New Jersey, particularly in Black and other communities of color.

After previous passage in the Assembly, the Senate passed legislation (S3203/A4830) to establish early in-person voting, bringing the state a step closer to joining many other states that already provide this option for casting a ballot.

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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