What does it take to move the world?
Meet the individuals who represent a new guard of social justice, building a future grounded in equality for all.
Now at the helm of NBWCP, Wallace-Gobern is leveraging her decades of organizing to give new strength to the fight for Black workers and civil rights. Black Voices, Black Votes helps register voters, get them to the polls, and hold elected leaders accountable to address issues important to them. (In an election year that saw historical voter turnout, she’s noted, “Black votes matter, but Black voters do not.”) Working While Black, a campaign that Wallace-Gobern has said makes “the invisible visible,” calls attention to racial bias and gives workers voice and validation. (Other descriptions spawned by racial profiling include Driving While Black, #Airbnb While Black, and Birding While Black.)
But Wallace-Gobern knows raising awareness only accomplishes so much. Under her leadership, NBWCP has been turning that awareness into action. In Chicago, the Black Worker Center Project ran a successful Ban the Box campaign, which did away with requiring job applicants to check a box if they had a criminal history. In Oakland, the project helped negotiate more than 1,000 Alameda County jobs for the formerly incarcerated. And in New Orleans, it created traffic clinics to help people access transportation to work, including one man whose $23,000 in fines was reduced to $9.
Wallace-Gobern once wrote, “There can be no economic justice without racial justice.” For her, fighting for both is just part of the job.
Illustration by Agata Nowicka