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National Civil Rights Group to Honor Grassroots Activists Committed to Racial Justice


National Civil Rights Group to Honor Grassroots Activists Committed to Racial Justice

Advancement Project celebrates 10 years of creating change and delivering impact



Washington, DC – Advancement Project, a civil justice action tank, will honor five exemplary individuals and organizations that have contributed to a collective national voice for racial equity.   Its 10th anniversary gala tonight will feature Sweet Honey in the Rock and Raddy’s New Orleans Second Line Band in a festive tribute to the inspiring work of the thousands of volunteers who have worked together to ensure a better life for those who are often underrepresented.


Over the last 10 years, Advancement Project has acted as a bridge to power, providing grassroots organizations across the country with the tools they need to make positive changes to their own communities. Advancement Project is working with New Orleans residents to regain access to their homes, which were destroyed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) after Hurricane Katrina. It has partnered with organizations from Denver to Miami to improve school discipline codes in an effort to end the schoolhouse to jailhouse track. And, it is helping thousands of individuals from Ohio to Missouri to Virginia exercise their right to vote.


“From New Orleans, to Mississippi, to Virginia to Florida, Advancement Project has been on the front lines, fighting tirelessly against racial injustice for the last 10 years,” Judith A. Browne-Dianis, Co-founder and Co-Director of Advancement Project said. “Advancement Project seeks to provide organizations with the research tools, insight, legal analysis, and communication strategies to help them gain make an impact in their community from access to decent housing, an equitable education, economic justice and the ballot box.”


Held at the Mayflower Hotel, Advancement Project will honor many of the individuals who have aided in its efforts to create a more just democracy at their gala. They include:


·         Gloria Williams and Bobbie JenningsOdessa Lewis, and Stephanie Mingo: These two sets of 60-year-old twin sisters are fighting for the rights to return to their homes, alongside over 4,000 families whose public housing units were demolished by HUD after Hurricane Katrina, even though it would have cost less to repair the buildings than to demolish and rebuild.


·         Bob Herbert: The New York Times writer’s 1999 column on a real estate developer’s plan to build a state-of-the art $8-million school in Tunica, Mississippi, that would serve mostly white families in an upscale community helped mobilize Congress, the U.S. Justice Department and other civil rights groups to the disparity. In the end, a school was built closer to an African-American community, so that it could serve all students in the area.


·         Padres y Jovenes Unidos: This Denver-based organization works for equality and justice in education, racial justice for youth, immigrant rights and the right to quality healthcare for all. In 2008, Advancement Project and Padres y Jovenes Unido achieved a major milestone when the Denver school board approved a new discipline code that both groups drafted. Rewriting the discipline code was part of a six-year effort to end the schoolhouse-to-jailhouse track in Denver, which was pushing students--disproportionately Black and Latino--out of the public school system and into the juvenile justice system.           


·         Jenner & Block LLP: This Chicago-based law firm donated considerable time and resources, partnering with Advancement Project to protect the rights of thousands of displaced New Orleans public housing residents after HUD closed affordable housing. In the wake of a dire housing shortage, Advancement Project, Jenner & Block, LLP and attorneys Bill Quigley and Tracie Washington sued HUD to immediately re-open safe and habitable public housing in New Orleans.


·         Open Society Institute: The New York-based organization founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros has been a generous and staunch supporter of a variety of Advancement Project’s programs including its Voter Protection Program and work in New Orleans post-Katrina. Their support has made it possible for Advancement Project to give voice to hundreds of thousands who struggle for racial justice and equality. 


“We are thrilled to honor such inspiring individuals and organizations, who have forged new paths in the fight for racial justice. Their resilience, determination and refusal to remain defeated have helped countless individuals across the country achieve victory in hard-fought struggles for a more just democracy,” Penda D. Hair, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Advancement Project said.


The multicultural celebration of the diverse groups Advancement Project has championed in the past decade, will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will include dinner and dancing. Tickets are $250/person and $2,500/table. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organization’s ongoing programs. Those interested in purchasing tickets should call 202-728-9557 or visit




Advancement Project's core purpose is to develop, encourage, pioneer and widely disseminate innovative ideas and models that inspire and mobilize a broad national racial justice movement so that universal opportunity and a just democracy are achieved.

The organization was founded on the principle that structural racism can be eliminated and a racially just democracy may be attained through multi-racial collective action by organized communities. Advancement Project's founding team of veteran civil rights lawyers and communications experts have established an organization that informs community organizing with careful legal analysis and strategic communications campaigns. We develop community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras. 


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