Saturday, March 11th, 2017, 10am-2pm, the First Christian Church of Concord, California hosted a comprehensive Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition (CCCRJC) Community Forum on the Criminal Justice Reform, Affordable Housing, Mental Health & Substance Abuse Facilities, and Civic Participation issues which characterize the Coalition platform. The Forum Agenda stated:
“Our collective concern about our criminal justice system and lack of public investment in our community resulted in the formation of the Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition. For a long time, the institutions that should be supporting us have prioritized and profited from shackles, walls, and jails in communities of color. Reinvestment means rejecting these priorities and advancing solutions that create opportunity. Too often, the people who have been most harmed by disinvestment, criminalization, and incarceration do not have the opportunity to shape the policies and realities of their lives, which is why increased civic participation is a critical goal of our coalition….”
Reverend Russ Peterson, Pastor of the First Christian Church, welcomed those in attendance, followed by an Introduction by Tamisha Walker, of the Safe Return Project. Supervisor John Gioia, District 1, honored the gathering as Keynote Speaker.
Claudia Jimenez, of CCCRJC, provided an in depth commentary on the justice, housing, mental health, and community programs which the Coalition actively promotes, stressing the need these programs provide in strengthening justice, promoting psychological wellbeing, increasing quality of living for local residents, and civically engaging communities.
Attendees were asked to speak personally on viable solutions and their effects upon individuals and communities, as well as encouraged to consider available resources for community involvement and strategies for improvement. Participants expressed concerns about needs in K-12 education, re-entry into society for former inmates, liaison activities with neighboring communities, aligning with multiple communities on similar issues, and aligning with the State for support on common issues.
A moving performance of “Dying While Black & Brown” by ZACCHO Dance Theatre entertained the forum in rare style, while closing remarks by Claudia Jimenez and Yqueline Valencia of CCCRJC sent attendees on their way with new ideas and renewed inspiration.
We at El Cerrito Progressives support and appreciate the participation of the Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition within County communities.