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SPRING 2007 20th ANNIVERSAY ISSUE CLSJ Celebrates 20th Anniversary From left to right: Assoc. Commissioner of Education, Sheila Evans-Trannum; Council Member, Robert Jackson; Exec. Director of CLSJ, Esmeralda Simmons; and Regent, Adelaide Sanford CLSJ Advocates for NYC Public Schools on Task Force 2009 The Center for Law and Social Justice is continuing its long must resolve several major NYC education policy issues in history of advocating for educational equity in the NYC the 2007 legislative session, e.g. implementation of the CFE public schools. CLSJ Executive Director, Esmeralda Sim- decision, and a new school funding formula. NYC Mayor mons has been an active member of TASK FORCE 2009 Bloomberg has recently initiated an aggressive campaign to since its launching in spring 2006. TASK FORCE 2009 is prolong and strengthen mayoral control by encouraging enact- the “blue ribbon” think tank of the Independent Commission ment of school governance legislation in the 2007 legislative on Public Education — a citywide grassroots advocacy session, thereby attempting to pre-empt the 2009 sunset. campaign for learning-based education and meaningful par- Task Force 2009 anticipates unveiling its proposal in ent/community involvement in the public schools. April 2007. In addition to Esmeralda Simmons, Esq., the The Task Force is so named because, in 2009, the cur- members of the Task Force include: Luis Acosta; Cathy Al- rent state law that gives the NYC mayor total control of its bisa, Esq.; Sam Anderson, PhD.; Jean Anyon; Luis Barrios, public schools and school board, is set to expire. The state PhD.; John Beam, PhD.; Norman Fruchter, PhD.; Diane Low- legislature can either amend the Education Law to adopt an man, PhD.; Prakash Nair; Pedro Noguera, PhD.; Luis Reyes, alternative governance system, or maintain, weaken, or PhD.; and Thomas Sobol, PhD.. The Task Force is supported strengthen mayoral control. The Task Force has been work- by the Independent Commission on Public Education and is ing on a governance system proposal that requires mayoral staffed by the National Center for Schools and Communities control in favor of local control. This year, the legislature at Fordham University. Esmeralda Simmons, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Justice CLSJ Wins Major Court Battle United States District Court Judge Kevin T. Dufy has approved the settlement in People United for Children vs. City of New York. The PUC case challenged the city’s child welfare policies and practices on the grounds that they discriminated against African American parents, resulting in the disproportionate placement of African American children in foster care. Look for the next issue for more information. The Center For Law and Social Justice Calling All Immigrants! Medgar Evers College 1150 Carroll Street (P-2/19-C207) Brooklyn, NY 11225 Tel: (718) 270-6293-6297 Fax: (718) 270-6190 Atencion! Immigrantes EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Lateefah Carter Appel a Tous les Imigres! Layout & Design Natalie Pryor Proof Reader Medgar Evers College Lesley Jean-Jacques Immigration Center CLSJ Staff Esmeralda Simmons, Esq. Opened New Office Gwendolyn Riddick, MSILR Joan Gibbs, Esq. at the Gerald White-Davis, Esq. EAST NEW YORK CAMPUS Allison Rosenberg, Esq. Bara Diokhane, Esq. George Gershwin Junior High School L. Patricia Janvier, Esq. 800 Van Siclen Ave. Alexus Sham, Esq. Lateefah Carter Brooklyn, NY Oseye Mchawi Arturo Perez Saad Olevia Senior FOR APPOINTMENT OR Interns WORKSHOP Denver Jean Baptiste Call—(718) 270-6397 Lynden Phil Bert FREE CONSULTATION Legalization Process (Green Card) Student Visa Sponsorship Naturalization EDUCATIONAL TRAINING WORKSHOPS Public Education System Criminal Justice System Child Welfare System (Foster Care) Worker’s Rights STAFF Bara Diokhan—Attorney L. Patricia Janvier—Attorney Olevia Senior—Outreach Specialist FILING FEES NOT INCLUDED 6*** CLSJ JOURNAL OF JUSTICE CLSJ in Action Medgar Evers College Immigration Center The services of the Center are offered both on and off campus. 2005 to 2006 was a very positive, productive and excit- Community Outreach Specialist, Arturo Perez-Saad ing year for the Medgar Evers College Immigration commented, “My task as an outreach coordinator is to Center. The Center continued to meet and surpass its promote the services that the center offers. This requires targeted goals, and develop its reputation as a welcom- making new contacts, fostering new relationships, main- ing organization where immigrants can get knowledge- taining existing relationships and building bridges of mu- able advice and expert assistance, and know that their tual cooperation. This is executed via the telephone, confidentiality and privacy are maintained. During the written communication and literature distribution. course of the year, the Immigration Center registered Whether I’m talking to clergy, representatives of three thousand five hundred and eight telephone calls; community groups or workers, there is a unanimous ac- conducted thirty-five workshops and immigration fo- ceptance of no-cost services. We are thanked profusely rums that were attended by over five thousands immi- and most of the time we are asked to come back and do a grants, and provided one-one-one legal services to one workshop, whether it be on immigration, worker’s rights, thousand five hundred and thirty four individuals. police brutality, etc. This past year the Immigration Center expanded its While there are many organizations that offer legal outreach services and collaboration with community consultations to immigrants we offer them at no-cost to organizations to increase access to its services for the the immigrants in five languages, including Creole, more than 931,769 immigrants throughout the Borough Wolof, Spanish, French and English. The consultations of Brooklyn. Services at the Center include free legal are with immigration lawyers not paralegals, which our consultation; citizenship training and a series of infor- clients prefer. mative workshops that ranging from: know your rights The only criterion is that you are eager to make a and obligations, to, how to effectively navigate the change for yourself or somebody else.” education, criminal justice and child welfare systems. Creating Justice Project have distributed over 1500 “Know Your Rights” bro- chures and conducted a workshop. Requests to lead Established in 2004, the Creating Justice Project works to more workshops continued to come in. Recently, our educate formerly incarcerated persons about their right to director, Esmeralda Simmons, was interviewed by vote. Every year, over 130,000 people who were formerly Andrea Banks of ARC (Applied Research Center) incarnated return to the streets, the majority to Central concerning her views around this case: Brooklyn. CLSJ, along with other advocacy groups, has been educating this sector of our community about the im- "The significance of the Sean Bell case is that portance of voting. Since its founding , the Project has satu- it’s just the latest incident in a long series of rated Brooklyn and the other four boroughs with palm NYPD abuses. We can go back 4 years to Al- cards, flyers and posters. The literature advices former in- berta Spruill, 8 years to Amadou Diallo, 10 carcerated persons that, once they have completed parole, years to Abner Luima, 15 years to Anthony they have the right to register to vote simply by filling out Baez, 20 years to Michael Griffith, 25 years to and submitting a voter registration card. Literature has been Eleanor Bumpers and keep going. But every distributed at forums, workshops, on street corners, and this day, "on duty" police officers in New York City year for the first time, at the Martin Luther King Summer routinely violate and disrespect people of color,” offered Ms. Simmons. “The continuum of Concert Series at Wingate Park where Project Associate police brutality indicates that there is actually Lateefah and our summer interns distributed fans, our vot- an issue in our larger society that supports po- ing brochure and the palm cards. lice violence against people of color. The issue The killing of Sean Bell and the wounding of his is racism and its product is often racial vio- friends in November 2006 has redirected the focus of the lence.” Creating Justice Project. During the past three months we CLSJ JOURNAL OF JUSTICE *** 3 Justice Dabiri, left, with “Ruthie” Award recipient Esmeralda Simmons, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Jus- tice at Medgar Evers College, Ms. Simmons’ husband Lesly Jean-Jaques, Lateefah Carter, Joan Gibbs, and Gerald White-Davis. “I t is a story of courage, struggle and determination, with mixed-successes and lingering questions. In recognition of Women’s History Month, the fifth annual Ruth E. Moskowitz Awards celebrate generations of men and women moving herstory forward,” stated Elizabeth Stull in the Wednes- day, April 4, 2007 issue of the Daily Bulletin. Our director, Esmeralda Simmons, was one of five recipients of the “Ruthie” Award, which was presented by the Gender Fairness Committee of Brooklyn Supreme Court. Justice Ruth E. Moskowitz, the first woman elected to the Supreme Court from Brooklyn in 1976 and for whom the award is named, dedicated her life to civil rights, judicial independence, and family. “The vi- sion I had was to be an advocate against racial discrimination, Ms. Simmons stated when accepting the award, “I am very, very humbled to be honored for doing what I was put on this planet to do.” CULTURAL RIGHTS PROJECT The CULTURAL RIGHTS PROJECT advo- Dance Africa’s founder Dr. Chuck Davis, a scholar- cates for the protection of the cultural rights of Af- ship fund, local youth activities, and charitable work ricans in America (people of African ancestry), in Africa and Haiti. In 1972, Davis, a famed dancer/ and raises the banner of human rights protection in choreographer, established Dance Africa at the the US. We primarily work with cultural organiza- Brooklyn Academy of Music. It is the oldest Afri- tions that are focused on the retention and preser- can and African Diaspora dance festival in the US. vation of African culture. It is also credited with revitalizing the teaching and performance of authentic African dance in the US. The Cultural Rights Project activities during 2005 and 2006 include: CLSJ’s Esmeralda Simmons is an elected member of the Council. At the Council’s request, she, Council of Elders of Dance Africa New York through CLSJ, is leading the formal reorganization of the group into a tax-exempt nonprofit corpora- The Council conducts a variety of activities that tion. support Dance Africa dance concert 4*** CLSJ JOURNAL OF JUSTICE The Lawyers: (first row, lft to rt) Florence Morgan, Justice Gloria Dabiri, Allison Rosenberg, Esmeralda Simmons, Joan Gibbs, and Justice Sheila Addu- Salaam; (back row, lft to rt) Reginald Boddie, with friends of the Center, Londell McMillian, Conrad Johnson, Prof. Victor Goode, and Paul Wooten Frank Lewis and Councilman Al Vann Dorothy Burham and Miriam Frances Reginald Boddie, Conrad Johnson, Justice Shiela Addu-Salaam, and Prof. Victor Goode Peter Williams and Esmeralda Simmons Gwen Riddick and Claudine K. Brown CLSJ JOURNAL OF JUSTICE *** 5 Assemblywoman Yvette Montgomery with friend of the Center, and Esmeralda Simmons Esmeralda Simmons, Dr. Divine Pryor and Eddie Ellis Regent Adelaide Sanford and Attorney Londell McMillian Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, Celeste Morris, and Justice Yvonne Lewis Vincent McGee and Fran Barrett Attorneys Reginald Boddie and Staff and Alumni: (first row, lft to rt) Clara Perez-Joseph, Esmeralda Simmons, Juan Cartagena Reginald Boddie, (second row) Charlene Samuel, Lateefah Carter, Oseye Mchawi, Joan Gibbs, Allison Rosenberg, Gerald White-Davis, and Dottie Conway (third row) Harvey Lawrence, Sam Anderson, Marian Gayle, Peter Williams, Divine Pryor, Eddie Ellis and Londell McMillian
"CLSJ Celebrates 20th Anniversary"