On February 11th LDF Director of Litigation, Christina Swarns was keynote speaker at the Newark Equal Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Annual Black History Month Celebration, Civil Rights in America. Ms. Swarns discussed the recent movements such as “#ICantBreathe,” “#HandsUpDontShoot,” and “#BlackLivesMatter,” arguing that they effectively capture the historical struggle for racial justice. “As frightening and terrifying and infuriating as these events are, they propel us into action,” said Swarns.
Ms. Swarns was joined by Dr. Margaret Stevens, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Urban Issues Institute at Essex County College. On the role of making a positive change in Newark, Dr. Stevens had this to say; “The young people in Newark are an untapped resource of power. They don’t know how brilliant they are. There needs to be more apprenticeship and mentorship. It changes what kids think they can be.”
Two fifth graders from the NJ Orators Club were also present. One recited Malcolm X’s eulogy and another presented a letter he wrote to Martin Luther King, Jr, eloquently expressing a mantra that could be a statement for any generation.
“We, my generation, are not thugs and robbers. We are scholars and leaders. We must first love ourselves, and the rest will come. Dr. King, I too want to make a great contribution to the world. I too have a dream.”
Swarns, in her opening remarks, reminded those in attendance that “black lives matter is a reminder that we have much work yet to do before we can declare victory in the fight for racial justice, civil rights and human rights. So, today, I’m going to spend my time talking about how the very recent tragedies echo crises of the past; about attorneys and advocates just like us that set aside very real and very legitimate fears to fight for racial justice; and about how the fight is far from over but it can certainly be won.”