Director's Corner: Accountability after Juneteenth

August 5, 2020

It’s been over a month since Juneteenth, and we witnessed a racial justice reckoning unlike any this country had seen before. Corporations, universities, media, philanthropy, and government officials made public commitments to implement Black Lives Matter in their hiring, grant making, teaching, business practices and internal structures. During this aftermath, EBCLC has been a racial justice accountability partner, pushing our network of gatekeepers and entities with discretionary power to value Black lives.

In July, EBCLC hosted We Do Not Live Single Issue Lives, a conversation on the legal and social work strategies we’ve applied to ensure African Americans and low-income communities of color can realize thriving, healthy and dignified lives in the face of COVID-19, the economic recession, and police violence. (Missed it? Check it out right here.) We talked about our work to root out anti-Blackness in schools, and end the over-reliance on expulsion and incarceration of children. We also emphasized our work to end tacit racial discrimination by state licensing boards and allow persons with convictions to obtain occupational licenses in accounting, mechanics, nursing, and other family-sustaining job sectors. And we shared our strategy to redress historic redlining and divestment from African American communities by getting cities in the Bay Area and across the country to take land off the speculative market and empower tenants.

This summer, EBCLC achieved critical racial justice victories through rigorous, unrelenting advocacy. We fought successfully for extensions of local eviction moratoriums, acting with the urgency of knowing that housing stabilization is key to disrupting the infection and death concentrated in African American communities. Because too many nonviolent traffic- or infraction-related incidents have ended in deadly force by police officers towards African Americans, we were honored to partner with community groups in Berkeley to remove police from traffic, infraction and parking enforcement and rebuild community-centered transportation and safety enforcement. EBCLC also hosted its first series of virtual Name and Gender Change Workshops to help our clients affirm their identities on their driver’s licenses, passports, social security cards, and other forms of identification. Given the high violence and discrimination experienced by our Black Trans clients in particular, we understand this work as integral to their ability to live visible and dignified lives.

Being an accountability partner demands mutual perseverance and commitment, and we are ready to demand as much from ourselves as we ask of you. We will continue to center racial justice in everything we do, and we are energized by the new partnerships that have emerged, the long-standing relationships that have evolved, and the incredible investments that have been made to sustain these efforts. Thank you for helping us ensure that Black Liberation is celebrated on Juneteenth and made a daily reality.


Zoë Polk

Executive Director

East Bay Community Law Center