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


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


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



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.

Institute and Over 80 Groups Urge Passage of Same-Day Voter Registration



Institute and Over 80 Groups Urge Passage of Same-Day Voter Registration

Current Registration Deadline Arbitrary and Disenfranchises Voters, Say Groups


NEWARK – Over 80 advocacy groups including the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey today wrote to Gov. Murphy, Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Speaker Craig Coughlin urging them to pass and sign pending legislation (A4548/S2824) to establish same-day voter registration in New Jersey, including on Election Day.

“New Jersey’s three-week arbitrary registration deadline disenfranchises voters year after year. It is long past time for New Jersey to join the over 20 states that allow voters to register on the same day that they vote up to and on Election Day,” said the groups in their letter.

Institute and 100 Groups Urge Gov. Murphy and Legislators to Support Youth Justice Reform Bill



Institute and 100 Groups Urge Gov. Murphy and Legislators to Support Youth Justice Reform Bill

Letter to Elected Officials and New Podcast Spell Out Necessity of Passing A4663/S2924


NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and 100 other organizations today sent a letter to Gov. Murphy, Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Ass. Speaker Craig Coughlin urging them to support the Restorative and Transformative Justice for Youths and Communities Pilot Program bill (the “Restorative Justice bill”) (A4663/S2924). A full copy of the letter can be found here.

As part of an effort to radically transform New Jersey’s broken youth justice system, the Restorative Justice bill will establish a two-year pilot program in four communities (Camden, Newark, Trenton and Paterson) directly impacted by high rates of youth incarceration. The bill requires moving $8.4 million from New Jersey’s overfunded incarceration system to restorative justice pilot programs – an approach that focuses on building healthy relationships and resolving conflicts in communities to decrease youth involvement in the youth justice system. The bill envisions a cost-effective plan to reduce racial disparities and recidivism rates and implement less punitive and more restorative interventions. The new programs would support youth who are released from incarceration and help them – and other youth – succeed and stay out of the system.

Rutgers University-Newark Joins Initiative With Various Schools to Combat Racial Oppression in Communities

TapInto's Tom Wiedmann reports

NEWARK, NJ -- Rutgers University–Newark announced today that it joined a collaborative grant project with other universities to raise awareness of racial issues and injustice. 

Invited by the University of Michigan Center on Social Solutions, Rutgers partnered with the grant-funded project sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As part of the foundation’s initiative, the center is creating “Crafting Democratic Futures: Situating Colleges and Universities in Community-Based Reparations Solutions,” a partnership with nine colleges and universities located in cities spanning various regions of the US. 

Through this project, officials said that participating colleges and universities in each city will collaborate with community partners in a public history reckoning designed to yield tangible, community-based racial reparations solutions that reflect the specific histories and contemporary circumstances of each community.

For its part of the three-year project, officials said Rutgers-Newark will work with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) and Newark Community Development Network (NCDN) to engage the city in raising awareness. 

Progressives File Suit to Eliminate the Party ‘line’ on Ballots

Insider NJ reports

In a move they say is designed to return democratic power to the voters of New Jersey and away from politically connected party bosses, a coalition of progressive organizations and candidates has joined a landmark lawsuit to force reforms in New Jersey elections by limiting the influence county party leaders exert in drawing ballots that favor particular candidates.

For decades, New Jersey’s county parties have exercised an iron grip on New Jersey elected officials — from congressperson to state legislator to township councilperson — by wielding control over who gets the coveted “party line” to give these chosen candidates an unfair advantage at the polls.

That practice violates the United States Constitution and must be reformed, according to a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

“This antiquated practice is truly indefensible.” said Sue Altman, State Director of New Jersey Working Families, one of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. “If we learned anything over the last four years, it’s that our democracy is fragile and requires a vigorous effort maintain. This expansive coalition is fighting to make democracy stronger in New Jersey. Up and down the state advocates agree: It is long past time for real, competitive primary elections. Our democracy is at stake, this is a matter of equity and whose voice counts.”

If we want real racial justice, we need to cut through red tape, Lt. Gov says's Tennyson Donyéa reports

After months of protests across the state and country demanding racial equality, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said Thursday it’s time for state officials to “abandon bureaucratic red tape” and pass more far-reaching racial justice policies.

Oliver, a Democrat, made the remarks at an annual meeting for the New Jersey Institute For Social Justice (NJISJ) Thursday evening, where leaders discussed the institution’s goals for the new legislative session, which began on January 14, and is scheduled to run through late January 2022.

“As a state governmental leader, we’ve got to abandon the old ways of going through bureaucratic kinds of experiences. We’ve got to cut out the red tape, cut out the bureaucracy,” Oliver said. “If you want to get something done, I believe, like Nike says, you just do it.”

At the meeting, which was held on Zoom and attended by some state legislators and members of the public, NJISJ leaders put forth the organization’s 2021 “action agenda” for social justice. The group is one of the most vocal advocacy groups for racial justice causes in the state.

RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers School of Public Health Lead Pledge Declaring that Racism is a Public Health Crisis

Clara Mass Medical Center Reports

New Brunswick & Newark, NJ – In recognition of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and 402 years of racism in the country, RWJBarnabas Health and the Rutgers School of Public Health join others around the nation to declare that racism is a public health crisis and that Black Lives Matter.

In an effort to ensure a more equitable and just world for Black and brown people, the two organizations developed a call to action in the form of a pledge, which has been adopted by groups that include academia, government, business, and community‐based organizations.

Racism hurts the health of communities by depriving people of the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. It is the fundamental cause of health disparities that are inextricably tied with poverty, inadequate housing, under-resourced and thus, underperforming schools, police brutality, mass incarceration, food deserts, food swamps, unemployment or underemployment, wage disparity, stress, poor access to health care, and violence, all of which are substantial barriers to health equity.

“In order to achieve health equity, eliminate health care disparities, and create more vital communities, we must identify and address racial injustices,” says Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health. “We must fearlessly commit to listening, confronting policies, systems, and structures that perpetuate and uphold racism, and holding conversations that lead to actionable change.”

CCOR Celebrates MLK, Announces Street to be Renamed in Memory of Lee Boswell May

TapInto's Madeline Thigpen reports

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Households across South Orange and Maplewood joined together to light luminaries in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The luminary project was a part of the Community Coalition on Race’s 20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Day program; this year’s theme was Community in Times of Challenge and Controversy. In past years the Community Coalition on Race (CCOR) held a program at Columbia before inviting attendees outside to participate in the luminary lighting together.

This year the CCOR observed MLK day with a virtual program broadcast on YouTube Live to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King and how the events of 2020 brought racial justice issues to the forefront in South Orange and Maplewood.

“We have seen the power of service and sacrifice in our community like never before,” said Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee. Highlighting the work that was done throughout SOMA to help out families who were the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“It was and continues to be a racial reckoning that transcends law enforcement and calls us to act upon injustice and discrimination in housing, job opportunities, access to education and even health care as we’ve seen communities of color disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus,” said South Orange Village President Sheena Collum.