NEW ORLEANS – Dillard University’s Center for Racial Justice (CRJ) has received a $1 million grant over two years from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support the center’s mission of bringing “systemic change to the way policing is done in communities of color and to promote partnerships with law enforcement, including police departments and sheriff’s offices, graduate, and professional schools.”
“This grant is of significant importance in allowing us to work on issues of race both locally and nationally. This includes areas related to education, law enforcement, voting rights, criminal justice and juvenile delinquency, among others,” said Dr. Ashraf Esmail, the Center for Racial Justice’s director and an associate professor of criminal justice at Dillard. “The grant will also allow us to provide paid internships and travel money for Dillard University students to be able to work, conduct research, and present on issues related to race and social justice.”
CRJ recently hosted the “Ride Revived” summer institute. Organized, in part, by a group of 2021 Dillard graduates, the institute taught strategies to fight voter suppression and advance voting rights. CRJ also looks to collaborate with state and local correctional facilities to develop a memorandum of understanding to provide Dillard’s Bachelor of Arts criminal justice program online. Esmail also plans to work with Dillard’s Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center and Pre-Law Program to host events centered around the intergenerational, legal and socio-medical effects of policing on the African American community.
“Dillard has a long history of being engaged in justice issues, beginning with our roots with two religious denominations that have had significant track records on these issues,” said Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Dillard’s president. “Our new Center for Racial Justice hit the ground running on faith that resources would come to support the work. The Kellogg Foundation has seen that we didn’t simply say we were going to do this, we are doing it.”
Founded in 2020, CRJ debuted its course Police Brutality: Violence and Social Control that fall. CRJ has also hosted several virtual events, including a conversation with civil rights activist James Meredith, a discussion among several New Orleans area college student leaders about racial healing, “Know Your Rights” in partnership with the Orleans Public Defenders Office, and a discussion about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.