One of the most important examples of criminal justice advocacy and action in the twentieth century was the national and international campaign to free the Scottsboro Nine, who were wrongfully convicted and given death sentences for rape of two white women. Between 1930 and 1949 the campaign coincided with the launching of efforts to bring about the release of the Trenton Six in New Jersey in 1948–Black men unfairly tried and convicted of murder and referred to at the time as “Scottsboro North.” There was the death sentence imposed on Matt Ingram in 1950 for “reckless eyeballing” a white woman in North Carolina. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was the national and international campaign to “Free Angela Davis.” And in the late 1970s the mobilization to “Free Joan Little,” falsely accused of the murder of a jail guard who attacked her, garnered support from social activists and feminist groups across the country. More recently, police violence and murder of African American men, women, and children led to the formation of Black Lives Matter, the Movement for Black Lives, Black Youth Project 100, and other groups that have protested and called for reforming and even “defunding the police.” Such protests escalated and took place globally following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Social Justice campaigns in the past and present have raised awareness of racial injustice and turned this awareness into action.
- Abrams, Stacey. Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America. United States: Henry Holt and Company, 2020.
- Burton, Susan, Cari Lynn, and Michelle Alexander. Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women. New York, 2017.
- Carter, Dan T. Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South. Revised Edition, Baton Rouge, LA, 2007.
- Davis, Angela. The Autobiography of Angela Davis. New York: Random House, 1974.
- Davis, Fania. The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice: Black Lives, Healing, and US Social Transformation. United States: Skyhorse Publishing, 2019.
- Durbin, Dick., Anderson, Carol. One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Austria: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
- Greenburg, Jack. Crusaders for the Courts: How a Dedicated Band of Lawyers Fought for the Civil Rights Revolution. New York: Basic Books, 1994.
- Hill, Marc Lamont., Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. We Still Here: Pandemic, Policing, Protest, and Possibility. United States: Haymarket Books, 2020.
- Howard, Walter T. ed., Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A Documentary History. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2007.
- Lebron, Christopher. The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
- Lewis, John. Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change. United States: Grand Central Publishing, 2012.
- Love, Bettina L.. We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. United States: Beacon Press, 2019.
- Ransby, Barbara. Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018.
- Reston, John. The Innocence of Joan Little: A Southern Mystery. New York Times Books, 1977.
- Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015.
- Stolarz, Brian. Grace and Justice on Death Row: The Race Against Time and Texas to Free an Innocent Man. Parker, CO: Skyhorse Publishing, 2016.
- Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2016.
- Here’s Where You Can Donate to Help Protests Against Police Brutality
- Berry, Mary Frances, “The Matt Ingram Case and the Denial of African American Sexual Freedom,” Journal of African American History 93, no. 2 (2008): 234-258.
- McNeil, Genna Rae. “The Body, Sexuality, and Self-Defense in State v. Joan Little, 1974-1975,” Journal of African American History 93, no. 2 (2008): 235-261.
- McNeil, Genna Rae. “African American Women, Social Activism, and the Criminal Justice System.” Journal of African American History 96, no. 3 (2011): 370-383. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.5323/jafriamerhist.96.3.0370
Links- Related Organizations
- The National Bail Out Collective
The National Bail Out Collective is committed to getting our people free through bail outs, advocacy, and leadership development. https://www.nationalbailout.org/
- Criminal Justice Reform Equal Justice Initiative
- Organizations for Volunteer Opportunities Equal Justice Initiative
It is a kit designed primarily for U.S.-based community organizers already working toward abolition and our allies. However, we hope it will be useful even for people who may not have thought much about abolition or who feel unsure about how useful it is as a goal.
- Open Letter Project
- Discuss Essie’s Justice. The impact of incarceration on families.https://www.becauseshespowerful.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Essie-Justice-Group_Because-Shes-Powerful-Report.pdf
- Berger, Dan, Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era (2014)