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‘Say the word’: Hundreds gather with N.J. social justice leaders to call for reparations bill's Rodrigo Torrejon reports

New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver was a bit ambivalent about Juneteenth.

For as long as she could remember, she and the Black community have celebrated the holiday commemorating June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and told the last of the slaves that they were free. It was more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves.

The holiday is a way to honor Black ancestors, remembering the pain and suffering slavery inflicted. But the work isn’t over, Oliver said.

Social justice leaders say lawmakers should advance NJ Reparations Task Force bill

News 12 Staff reports

What was New Jersey’s role in the enslavement of Black people? And could a task force be the answer to the descendants of slaves getting reparations?

Van Winkle ran the Van Winkle slavering – a ring that captured free and enslaved Blacks and sold them into permanent slavery.

Now there is a bill in the New Jersey Legislature that would establish a Reparations Task Force in the state. It is known as Bill S322.

Voting Problems Reported In Newark During 2021 Primary Election

Patch's Eric Kiefer reports

NEWARK, NJ — Ryan Haygood went to his Newark polling place early Tuesday morning, eager to vote in New Jersey's 2021 primary election. There was just one problem – a total absence of voting machines.

Haygood, president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ), says he was one of many Brick City residents who ran into election day troubles earlier this week.

As reported by the New Jersey Globe, 33 voting machines, mostly for polling locations in Newark's predominately Black Central, South and West Wards, weren't delivered before polls opened. In all, 23 polling places didn't have voting machines by 6 a.m.

Local Advocates Issue Letter to County Amid Voting Issues Reported During Primary

TapInto's Tom Wiedmann reports

NEWARK, NJ – A letter signed by a coalition of 20 local organizations on Friday was sent to Essex County Superintendent of Elections Patty Spango requesting an investigation amid issues reported at multiple polling places in Newark during the primary election. 

The letter claimed multiple polling places in Newark didn't have voting machines when polls opened, and it took hours for the machines to arrive. With voters left having to use provisional ballots, other residents returned to polls later in the day to cast their ballot.

“I went to my Newark polling place at 7:30 on Tuesday morning to cast my ballot only to find that there were no voting machines available,” said Ryan Haygood, president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “I was told to return later and not offered a provisional ballot until I proactively requested one. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have encountered voting obstacles in Newark. Running elections is a massive endeavor, but we must do better."

United Black Agenda Calls on Gov. Murphy and Legislative Leaders to Dismantle Systemic Racism in New Jersey's Legislative Process



United Black Agenda Calls on Gov. Murphy and Legislative Leaders to Dismantle Systemic Racism in New Jersey's Legislative Process


The United Black Agenda (UBA) calls on Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, and Speaker Coughlin to take steps to dismantle systemic racism in the legislative process, namely by reforming the state’s budgeting process so it is more inclusive, transparent, and democratic, and by making transformative and reparative investments in the billions in Black communities and other communities of color.

Today, Governor Phil Murphy will sign New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget. And with this signing, he culminates a budget process that largely shut out the voices of New Jersey’s Black and Brown communities and was instead led by New Jersey’s most powerful elected officials, each of whom are white men: Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Speaker Craig Coughlin.

To be sure, power given to a few, as here, not only undermines democracy but it also strengthens, empowers, and perpetuates systemic racism. That’s why New Jersey is home to some of the nation’s starkest racial disparities in the areas of wealth, health, education and incarceration — just to name a few. Racial inequity is built into New Jersey’s very foundation, which carries a direct through line from slavery that took root very deeply in the colony to today’s disparities.

Institute Responds to Passage of Legislation with Racial Justice Implications in NJ Legislature Today



Institute Responds to Passage of Legislation with Racial Justice Implications in NJ Legislature Today


NEWARK – The New Jersey Senate and Assembly today both passed important legislation with implications for racial justice. 

The Senate passed S3683, a bill that will require colleges and universities to provide targeted data on student loan outcomes broken down by race, ethnicity, age, family income at time of admission, gender and first-generation status that would help identify where reforms are needed to protect students and borrowers of color. 

“Too many students of color are burdened with insurmountable debt in New Jersey,” said Laura Sullivan, Director of the Economic Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “By requiring critical data, this bill is an important piece of the puzzle in ensuring that students of color have access to higher education without a decades-long debt burden.” 

The Senate and Assembly passed A5942/S3999, a bill to authorize the Secretary of State to join the Electronic Registration Information System (ERIC), a multi-state nonprofit organization that allows states to improve their voter rolls and increase voter registration access for voters. Thirty states and the District of Columbia already participate in ERIC.  

Institute Responds to Budget as NJ Legislature Prepares to Vote


Institute Responds to Budget as NJ Legislature Prepares to Vote 


NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today issued the following statement in response to the FY2022 budget to be voted on tomorrow in the New Jersey Legislature.

“While the budget process has lacked adequate transparency and a strong democratic process, it includes several important items when it comes to advancing racial and social justice, and we hope that New Jersey will take even bolder and more progressive steps in the future.”

In the area of economic justice:

“We are pleased to see the budget helps to expand access to affordable higher education through a continued commitment to the Community College Opportunity Grant program and the implementation of the new Garden State Guarantee, which will help more eligible students access tuition-free college at New Jersey’s two and four-year public institutions. Successful implementation of the Garden State Guarantee as well as sustained funding and increased awareness of both programs moving forward will greatly expand higher education opportunities for low-income students in New Jersey and serve to reduce racial disparities in higher education. 

Institute Launches Reparations Campaign with Juneteenth Rally and Engagement Tools



Institute Launches Reparations Campaign with Juneteenth Rally and Engagement Tools

With Wide and Diverse Support, Say the Word Campaign Calls for Passage of Legislation for a New Jersey Reparations Task Force


NEWARK -- The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today launched a Say the Word: Reparations campaign calling for passage of S322/A711 to establish a Reparations Task Force in New Jersey.

Over 100 organizations have endorsed the campaign or signed on to a letter to elected officials urging passage of the pending legislation.

“Surprising to many, New Jersey has a substantial and dark history of slavery,” said Ryan Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “A direct line can be drawn from that history to today, when we have some of the worst racial disparities in America. It is time to repair the harm in a deep and lasting way, and reparations must be a part of that. Reparations can look like different kinds of investments in New Jersey’s Black communities, but we must embrace the word and not run from it.”

Despite being a northern state, New Jersey – which has been referred to as the “slave state of the North” – incentivized slavery at our state’s founding, when white settlers received 150 acres of land and were eligible to receive an additional 150 acres for every enslaved person they brought with them. New Jersey had a “slave code” in 1704 prohibiting African Americans from owning property. By 1830, over two-thirds of all enslaved people in the North were held in our state. 

Juneteenth Rally to Say the Word: REPARATIONS



Juneteenth Rally to Say the Word: REPARATIONS

With Support of Over 30 Groups, June 19 Rally in Newark Will Call for Passage of S322/A711 to Establish Reparations Task Force in New Jersey

NEWARK – On June 19 at 12 PM, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, racial justice advocates and elected officials from across the state will gather in Newark to celebrate Juneteenth and to call for passage of pending legislation to establish a Reparations Task Force in New Jersey. This will be the first Juneteenth recognized by New Jersey as a state holiday.

A copy of the event flyer including logos of more than 30 widely diverse organizations can be found here.

“While we rightly celebrate the liberation of enslaved people on Juneteenth, we must also double down on our commitment to create an equitable and just America – and New Jersey – where Black people are truly free and not restricted by the shackles of structural racism,” said Ryan Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Say ‘the Word’ This Juneteenth | Opinion

Institute President & CEO Ryan Haygood writes

When New Jersey celebrates Juneteenth as a state holiday for the first time on Saturday, people from across the state will rally in Newark with one clear message: It’s time to say “the word.”

That word is “reparations.”

Juneteenth — also known as Freedom Day — has been a tradition in the United States for more than 150 years.

It marks the day, June 19, 1865, when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas finally learned about their freedom — more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.