April 4, 2019
Color of Change was founded by James Rucker and Van Jones in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated communities of color along the Gulf Coast. They were horrified by the extent of the damage, by the lives lost and ruined—and by how long it took the government to send help.
Rashad Robinson, Color of Change’s president, has said, “Black people were on their roofs after Katrina and the government did nothing. No one was afraid of disappointing black people.”
For 14 years, Color of Change has been working hard, and successfully, to change that. We stand with Color of Change, and we hope you will too.
The Rise of Digital Activism
Color of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. It’s rooted in digital activism and harnesses the power of technology, media savvy, and a deep engagement with local organizations on the ground to build movements and achieve broad structural change. Ultimately, Color of Change is working to end systemic racism in America.
Ending systemic racism means, fundamentally, changing the rules — some spoken, some unspoken — that govern our society. Systemic racism ensures that people of color live in a state of permanent disadvantage when it comes to things like moving through the educational system, the economy, the healthcare system, and so much more. Systemic racism is why Black people had to wait so long on their rooftops for help.
Color of Change’s 1.5 million members drive long-term campaigns and initiatives that move decision-makers in corporations, key industries, and government at every level to start changing those rules. Marches, protests, sit-ins, and other tactics remain powerful ways to generate attention, amplify voices, and build energy. But to magnify impact, Color of Change combines these traditional tactics with email, petitions, and social media to quickly move its members to action.
The idea of bringing people together online to affect change definitely seems less revolutionary now than it did 14 years ago. Back then, it’s likely some people wondered whether activism that relied on an Internet connection could have a serious impact.
It can. The evidence is clear. Here are just a few of their biggest victories:
- The Jena Six
Color of Change shined a spotlight on the Jena Six in Mississippi, exposing the racism of local officials and helping students who were unfairly targeted.
ALEC is a national organization that writes and promotes awful policies (like voter ID laws). Few people know that some of our best-known corporations fund its work. Color of Change got 100 of those corporations to pull their support.
- Winning Justice
With its Winning Justice campaign, Color of Change is helping to elect reform-minded prosecutors who want to transform the criminal justice system.
Fighting for Justice on the Front End
We’ve partnered with Color of Change numerous times over the years, and we’re proud to be working together today on front end criminal justice reform. We love their Winning Justice campaign and join them in seeking to end money bail, the overpolicing of schools and of communities of color, unfair sentencing practices, and so much more.
We know that when we hold prosecutors accountable, then we start to bring an end to mass incarceration and make progress toward ending the systemic oppression of communities of color. If we all work together, then we can make it happen. Stay tuned for more on where we go from here.
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