“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Martin Luther King Day this year, let’s think about how we can contribute to fighting injustice. All year, we blog about how broken our criminal justice system is, but we rarely talk about what can be done about it on a personal level. In honor of the hard work that Martin Luther King, Jr. undertook to fight for his unrealized dream of equality for all, let’s figure out how each of us can join that same struggle.
Spread the word. Do not minimize the power of acknowledging and talking about injustice. By sharing articles about issues like racial injustice, mass incarceration, police brutality, and wrongful convictions, we all work together to create an environment where some of these long-standing problems are finally front and center in the nation’s attention. Shows like the extremely popular Making a Murderer (on Netflix) or the Emmy Award winning Orange is the New Black are manifestations of that trend. So, too, are the almost two million YouTube hits of a Chicago Police officer gunning down Laquan McDonald. In the past, no one talked about police brutality or murder, but now people know Laquan’s name and names like Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice. And as people think and talk about wrongful convictions, police brutality, and prison reform, politicians are responding. There is now bipartisan support for criminal justice reform and some new accountability in cities where police violence is rampant.
So, keep it up. If you like our content, subscribe to our blog and share it. Or stay informed via The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Equal Justice Initiative, The Marshall Project, The Exoneration Project, or one of the numerous other organizations with strong content about fighting for justice. And when you hear people dismissing injustice, be strong enough to stand up for what is right. Keep talking about oppression so that it doesn’t disappear from society’s attention. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” Don’t be silent.
Get involved. Even if you have limited time, there are still many ways that anyone can make a difference. Here are just a few:
- Write your legislators to encourage criminal justice reform.
- Contact media outlets with positive feedback for coverage about wrongful convictions and justice issues. We need to keep the conversation going strong.
- Donate books to incarcerated people through organizations like Liberation Library.
- Volunteer with a prison re-entry or reform organization.
- For your next book group, suggest a book about social justice and get the conversation started. An amazing place to start is Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. It’s a great read.
- Volunteer at a local prison. Many prisons need people to help with literacy, job skills, parenting skills, and basic money management. Donating just a couple of hours a week can make a tremendous difference, while offering you a unique opportunity for connection and meaningful contribution. Or volunteer for a local organization that helps children visit or stay in touch with a parent in prison. For links to some of the organizations providing prisoner support services, check out the ACLU’s Prisoner’s Assistance Directory.
- Donate. Find the social justice organization whose mission overlaps with your passion, and make a donation. The fighters for justice are far too often underfunded, understaffed, overworked, and without enough resources to fight all of the battles that need to be fought. Support them.
We welcome any thoughts you may have about other ways for people to get involved in the fight for social justice. But whatever you decide to do, now is the moment.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.