The comprehensive analysis in your issue on Law, philanthropy and justice (Alliance, March 2021) underscores the need for solutions which originate from and centre on those most directly affected by injustice.
A critical node in the social justice ecosystem continues to be activist legal work that complements direct action. While not always perfect, strategic litigation has opened the way for challenges to the status quo and secured greater protection for vulnerable and historically oppressed groups in the process. At the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, a small legal team has been co-creating strategic litigation, policy, and legislation with low-income and/or communities of colour since the civil rights era. Through a racial equity lens, NCLEJ’s model has successfully advanced economic justice and safety in collaboration with people of colour-led grassroots leaders.
As the contributors to the issue note, funders would do well to take an ecosystem and intersectional approach to strengthening justice and equity movements. The examples of innovative legal partnerships presented in the issue are heartening. Yet entrenched caste systems persist across the globe. I applaud the recent resurgence of trust-based philanthropic practice that strengthens the social justice infrastructure, allows flexibility and supports collaboration across movements and disciplines.
Pushing on all fronts in the courts, on the streets, and in philanthropy’s boardrooms might be the only way we regain lost ground and move the needle towards equity and equality.
Director of Philanthropy
National Center for Law and Economic Justice