Former RJN! E.D. honored for work, receives national award in Washington D.C.

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Racial Justice NOW! (RJN) is a community based, grassroots org led by parents pushing back on dehumanization in education.

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Center for Community Change and Center for Community Change Action Honor Five Inspiring Leaders in the Fight for Economic Equity and Social Justice

(WASHINGTON)—The Center for Community Change and the Center for Community Change Action held its 13th annual Change Champions Awards ceremony on Thursday, honoring five inspiring leaders as heroes of the social justice movement and leaders of the resistance against all policies that aim to harm vulnerable communities including low-income families, immigrants, Blacks, women and LGBTQ people.

Visionary leaders and organizations often go unnoticed in their daily work to confront some of our country’s most pressing challenges. CCC shines a spotlight on them, honoring a range of social justice advocates over the past 13 years, including then-Senator Barack Obama.

Each year, the Change Champions Awards recognize leaders in five areas: community organizing, labor partnership, philanthropic leadership, community activism, and an emerging Change Champion.

“We are at a time in our country where millions of people are mired in poverty. We are grappling with racial injustice, a broken immigration system, disenfranchisement,” said CCC President Deepak Bhargava.

“As we honor these heroes of social change, we must link arms and fight for the kind of nation we want to live in, a nation that values everybody, where everyone has enough to thrive,” said CCC Action President Dorian Warren.

Here are this year’s honorees:

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and  PPFA Leader Danielle Henry: Champions in Community Activism.

Jeffrey David Cox, Jr., President, American Federation of Government Employees: Champion in Labor Partnership.

Tom Steyer, Founder of NextGen America: Champion in Philanthropic Leadership.

Michelle Tremillo, Executive Director, Texas Organizing Project (TOP), and the leaders of TOP: Champion in Community Organizing.

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, Co-Founder, Racial Justice NOW! Emerging Change Champion:

“I am a mother and I got into this work not as a professional organizer, but as my response to my then 3-year-old son’s treatment at school,” Sankara-Jabar said. “We have organized black parents all across the state of Ohio to make sure that black children and all children who are targeted for disproportional suspensions and pushed out of school have equal opportunity to be all they can be. We are working to end the school to prison pipeline.”

An impacted parent who became an organizer to fight the school-to-prison pipeline, Zakiya co-founded and led Ohio-based Racial Justice NOW! (RJN!). Empowering Black parents to fight back against public schools’ detrimental discipline policies, RJN! continues to win significant local victories. Today, as the National Field Organizer with the Dignity in Schools Campaign, Zakiya shares her successful local experience on a national scale – supporting hundreds of coalition members taking on the same fights in their own communities.

When asked what keeps her going in the face of daily attacks, Zakiya simply replied: “I’m not unique, what happened to my child is happening to other parents, so empowering people who have been systemically impacted motivates me daily.”

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