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Journey to Justice virtual symposium to put criminal justice reform in NCRM spotlight

The National Civil Rights Museum and Just City are hosting a virtual symposium, Journey to Justice, to highlight critical criminal justice reform work that’s being done throughout the country and to demonstrate how much work remains to be done.

The 90-minute virtual event consists of three Journey Stops, or panel discussions, and includes a keynote by award-winning attorney and clemency champion Brittany K. Barnett.

The partnered event with Just City provides a platform for thought leaders to present research, share stories and perspectives on today’s pressing social issues, as well as the history that has led us to this point.  The complementary work of both organizations will serve as a unique backdrop for this important conversation.

“Justice has been an issue in this country for centuries,” said Veda Ajamu, the museum’s Director of Community Engagement and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives.

“The Journey to Justice symposium is not only to bring awareness to the continued injustices in the criminal legal system, but also to offer a call-to-action. We have brought together an esteem group of individuals in the criminal justice space, including those directly impacted, to share their perspectives, life experiences and recommendations.”

The symposium focuses on how this system impacts families and society, how it continues to hinder returning citizens and juveniles, and what we must do to ensure opportunity, progress and safety for everyone.

  • The first panel is Journey Stop I: Roots of an Unjust System with Megan Ming Francis, a political science and public policy professor at University of Washington, Duane Loynes, Rhodes College urban studies and Africana studies, and Sarah Lockridge-Steckel, CEO and founder of youth empowerment organization The Collective.
  • The second panel is Journey Stop II: Pandemic, Policing and Prosecution with panelists Demetria Frank, diversity and inclusion director and professor at University of Memphis School of Law, Kevin Ring, president of criminal justice reform advocacy group FAMM, and Alex S. Vitale, sociology and coordinator of Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College.
  • The third panel is Journey Stop III: Returning Citizens and Transforming Justice with directly impacted speakers Marcus Bullock, who developed a mobile app to help keep families connected during incarceration through his company Flikshop; Topeka Sams, who founded the Ladies of Hope Ministries and is an social justice advocate and talk radio host; and Robert Shipp, who consults on violence and speaks on criminal justice reform.

The symposium features keynote speaker Brittany K. Barnett who has won freedom for number people serving death sentences for federal drug offenses. She is the founder of organizations like Buried Alive Project and Girls Embracing Mothers.

Barnett has been named one of America’s most Outstanding Young Lawyers by the American Bar Association. She recently published a memoir of her personal experiences with the criminal justice system in “A Knock at Midnight.”

The virtual event also includes spoken word by Memphis poet Yolanda “Quiet Storm” Gates.

The event is free, however, registration is required by January 8 to access event platform on January 9.

For information and to register, visit the museum’s website.

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