The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights advances racial and economic justice to ensure dignity and opportunity for low-income people and people of color.
The Ella Baker Center is named for an unsung hero of the civil rights movement who inspired and guided emerging leaders. We build on her legacy by giving people opportunities and skills to work together to strengthen our communities so that all of us can thrive.
We believe that every person has the right to safety, to dignity, to equality, and to self-determination. Our work aims to defend and advance these rights in the United States.
Our country faces a huge crisis in our justice system. The United States locks up more people than any other nation on the planet. At the heart of this problem is an expensive and failed War on Drugs which saps states of their resources and has been proven time and again to have a disproportionate impact on communities of color.
In recent years, in addition to high rates of incarceration, the US has started detaining hundreds of thousands of immigrants in prison-like detention facilities. At same time, private prison companies have emerged to earn astronomical profits by taking advantage of the pain and suffering of millions behind bars.
All of this incarceration and detention is coming at a huge expense to our communities, our families, and our nation. In this time of massive budget cuts across the country, state after state is sacrificing family and community safety nets, most markedly our schools. Cities across the country face bankruptcy while students and families amass more and more debt. Yet, politicians continue to invest billions into jails and prisons that fail to help people get their lives back on track nor help make our communities safer.
As long as we continue to spend on failed approaches that lock people up, we won’t be able to afford the vital resources that actually set up youth and families for success such as schools, job training programs, and funds for business innovation at local and regional levels.
As a country, we need to reverse the trade-off between schools and services that invest in opportunities for our youth, families, and workers and the jails and prisons which rob our communities of a hopeful future. Instead of basing policies on fear and reckless pursuit of profit, we're building a society where decisions and laws are based on love and the common good.
Like Miss Baker, we believe that when people have the knowledge, inspiration and solutions they need to address the challenges they face, they can make a difference. Therefore we put people-- youth, emerging leaders, people hungry for change-- at the center of our work.