Racial Justice NOW! is committed to dismantling structural and institutional anti-Black racism in all areas of people activity. Our primary focus is on the institution of education and lifting up the voices of dis-empowered Black parents and children. We are dedicated to stopping the school to prison pipeline and focus specifically on holding institutions accountable to equitable distribution of resources and services to the Black Community.
Co-Founder / University of Dayton Law Professor Emeritus
A professor at the School of Law since 1990, Vernellia Randall writes extensively on and speaks internationally about race, women, and health care. She is the recipient of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health Chairman’s Award, and she was named one of the “Top 10 Most Influential African-Americans” on the 2001 Black Equal Opportunity Employment Journal list.
Professor Randall hasn’t always been associated with the study or practice of law. “I grew up during Jim Crow in the South,” she says. “If you were a black woman going to college, you either became a nurse or a teacher.” She chose nursing. She did like the profession, though, and had worked in nursing homes while in high school. As a nurse, Professor Randall provided public health nursing services and served as an administrator for a statewide health program in Alaska.
Involved in public health work for more than 15 years, Professor Randall focused on eliminating disparities in health care for minorities and the poor. She believed a thorough knowledge of the law would help her become more effective in her mission, so she enrolled in law school. After graduating in 1987 from Lewis and Clark Law School, she became an associate with a Portland, Oregon, law firm specializing in health care law and issues relating to health and disability insurance coverage. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at Lewis and Clark College.
She soon turned to teaching full time, wanting to make a “greater intellectual impact.” She has never regretted the decision. “I love the ‘a-ha!’ moments that students get,” she says.
Since coming to the School of Law, Professor Randall has also served as a consultant to the Clinton administration advisory committee on health care reform and as a grant reviewer for the National Institute of Health. She was also an expert witness in the State of Missouri v. Philip Morris trial. She has been recognized in Who’s Who in the World since 1995 and Who’s Who in the United States since 1998.
Professor Randall retired from the University of Dayton School of Law in April 2013 and is no longer making the day to day decisions of RJN! although she still develops the Ohio school discipline report card on behalf of RJN! annually.
Co-Founder/ Brightbeam Network
Zakiya came to advocacy, organizing, and policy work as a parent pushing back on the pre-school to prison pipeline. Prior to joining Dignity in Schools Campaign, she co-founded Racial Justice NOW! (RJN!) in Dayton, Ohio and served as Executive Director for 5 years. During her time at RJN! Zakiya organized Black parents to fight back against schools’ overly harsh discipline policies and practices that are ineffective, unfair and detrimental. Through this advocacy, organizing, and policy work-parents were able to win some significant victories; including a moratorium on out of schools suspensions for PK students and the creation of the ‘office of males of color,’ in the Dayton Public Schools. This work was the impetus in the new law passed in 2018 strictly limiting PK-3rd-grade suspensions and expulsions for public and charter schools in the State of Ohio.
Zakiya has been featured in media publications such as the Dayton Daily News, The Real News Network, Ohio Education Association (OEA) and presented training’s on race, school climate and culture at the OEA Summer Academy in 2015 & 2016. Additionally, Zakiya was featured in an article on preschool expulsions from the Center for American Progress.
Zakiya has received the Emerging Leader Award from the Center for Community Change in 2017 and the Community Advocacy Award from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality and Legal Aid of Western Ohio in 2016. Zakiya also received the Drum Major for Justice Award from the Dayton (OH) Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 2015.
Finally, Zakiya has the first chapter in the upcoming book: ‘Lift Us Up! Don’t Push Us Out! Voices from the Frontlines of the Educational Justice Movement’ released on Beacon Press in August 2018.