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RJN! envisions a world free of structural anti-Black racism in education and beyond.
RJN! partners with and organizes across generations of impacted youth, parents, and communities to build and wield peoplepower at the grassroots to advance human rights by challenging systemic anti-Black racism, the criminalization of Black families, and discriminatory policies in education and beyond.
- Truth & Integrity: we move in truth and in line with our values and principles. Being reliable and honest to the best of our ability. Understanding that we all have different supports that allow us to move in integrity or not, similarly as with love and grace. This includes having an intention to do what we said we would do, to be in integrity with our words and values.
- Power, Self Determination, Liberation, & Freedom: as Black people we intend to define and name ourselves and our intersecting identities. To create for ourselves and our educational networks, to love ourselves, to worship as we wish, to support ourselves, and to speak for ourselves. Freedom and autonomy. This includes our communities having the power to decide how public resources are allocated.
- Love, Grace, Cooperation, & Relationships: we move with kindness, accountability, compassion, thoughtfulness, and a collective smooth movement in the ways in which we interact
- with each other. This includes an understanding of intergenerational trauma, and never placing the blame for harm on our own people, but rather on systems of oppression.
- Health, Healing, & Well-Being: we aim to become free of physical/ physiological, spiritual, emotional, mental illness and injury. This includes having access to spaces to heal from harm and trauma.
- Fun & Joy: we surrender to allow for limitlessness of creativity and transformation. Something pleasurable. This includes generating opportunities for Black joy through play, dance, arts, music, and other culturally appropriate mechanisms.
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 no longer makes the day-to-day decisions of RJN!
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.
Racial Justice NOW! DMV Associate
Carolyn D. Lowery, M.S.W. has over 20 years of experience in confronting racism and eliminating racial disparities through strategy development, community organizing and engagement, promoting cultural shifts, training and facilitation, relationship building, curriculum development, and reconciliation and healing. She has most recently focused her career in Montgomery County, Maryland — her home county– and surrounding areas to facilitate movements toward a more racially equitable society. She has worked with numerous individuals, organizations, and groups to begin deconstructing the structural impacts of racism in the United States, to understand the history of racism and how it influences our current social context, and to begin visioning towards what a racially equitable society could be.
Carolyn currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Montgomery County Collaboration Council as the Board secretary, on the Charles Koiner Conservancy for Urban, and on the Shaw Community Center as the Board chair. She is also the founder of Roots to the Future, L.L.C. and the co-founder of The Global Healing Collective. She received her B.A. in psychology from Syracuse University and her M.S.W. with a focus on management and community organizing from The University of Maryland School of Social Work.
In 2014 and 2015, Carolyn lived abroad in a rural town in Colombia, South America. While there, she co-created an English learning program for Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA) – a government initiative to develop education and effectuate employment. Her experience in Colombia resulted in a shifted perspective about and a deep appreciation for joy, nature, rest, land and land use, and community. These are values that continue to guide her current work.
Carolyn will be leading the work around RJN!’s healing campaign, the removing school resource officers (SROs) out of schools, and other initiatives towards dismantling structural and institutional anti-Black racism in the DMV.
Hashim Ali Jabar
Racial Justice NOW! Co-Director
H.A. Jabar began working with Racial Justice NOW! in Dayton, Ohio in 2013 as a Communications Coordinator, assisting with press releases, web development, media relations devlopment as well as organizing youth and parents. He later became the interim Director and later RJN!’s Co-Director. Zakiya and Hashim lead RJN!’s work as a husband-and-wife team. Together they have achieved many wins for their community. Jabar is a certified paralegal and graduate of Arizona State University, where he was a NCAA All-American wrestler.