We are excited to share that Represent Justice, a campaign inspired by the Warner Bros. film JUST MERCY, will now be continuing the work of the campaign as a broader narrative change effort dedicated to harnessing the power of storytelling to spur public demand for a fair legal system, dignity for system-impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentencing. This exciting effort will be led by incoming Chief Executive Officer Daniel Forkkio, a career nonprofit leader and advocate who previously served as Represent Justice Chief Financial and Operating Officer as well as Campaign Manager.
“It’s an incredible honor to continue leading this organization during such a powerful moment,” said Daniel Forkkio. “Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen a collective shift in the way people view our justice system, and it is critical that we continue to uplift the experiences of system-impacted leaders and support the community organizations who have been doing this work for decades, in order to create public demand for change.”
“As an exoneree who spent more than 18 years in prison for a crime I did not commit, the story of Walter McMillan’s fight for freedom as depicted in JUST MERCY hit close to home,” Represent Justice Ambassador Fernando Bermudez said. “It’s the kind of story that, like mine, has the ability to change hearts and minds to shift the direction of our justice system. I’m so glad Represent Justice will be able to continue amplifying these voices and stories.”
Represent Justice is excited to continue working with a coalition of partners, artists, athletes, and stakeholders across industries to spur change in our justice system and build capacity for other organizations fighting to do the same.
“I’m so grateful for Represent Justice’s commitment to amplifying voices and perspectives that are not often at the forefront of the conversation around incarceration, like the experiences of women and girls in the system,” Represent Justice Ambassador April Grayson said. “They understand that in order to shift the narrative, we have to make sure everyone’s voices are heard.”
One way the campaign was able to accomplish this work and forge connections across industries was through Play for Justice — a series of basketball games and intimate roundtable discussions inside prison facilities across the United States. Play for Justice brought currently incarcerated people together with NBA and WNBA players, policymakers and community organizations to highlight stories of hope and redemption.
Represent Justice has lent its efforts to support the Justice for Julius Jones campaign — an urgent effort to free an innocent Black man on death row in Oklahoma. Represent Justice’s partnership with the campaign has been an entry point in creating foundational relationships in Oklahoma, a state that in 2016 was the largest incarcerator in the country.
“Without Represent Justice, there’s no way the #justiceforjulius would be a national campaign today. They have given a man on death row more hope than he even thought possible by sharing his story with millions, and refusing to give up on him,” Cece Jones-Davis, the Campaign Manager for the Justice for Julius campaign said.
“We need their passion, creativity and brilliance as a permanent fixture in social advocacy spaces across the country and the world.”
In the last six months, Represent Justice has been able to draw on a network of partners and supporters to address the most pressing needs of the moment.
The global COVID-19 pandemic altered every aspect of our world — a shift most heavily felt by system-impacted people, particularly those currently incarcerated. Represent Justice was able to quickly pivot and direct programming and resources to ensure those most vulnerable were safe. It donated more than 27,000 masks to 7 facilities across the country, created a one-of-a-kind tool that allows people to simultaneously contact their local sheriff and governor and urge them to protect the safety of incarcerated people, and distributed $130,000 through an Emergency Covid-19 Relief Fund to dozens of organizations working to protect the health of incarcerated people.
“From helping us get masks to women incarcerated in Louisiana to supporting Louisiana Parole Project in opening two homes for returning citizens released during this pandemic, Represent Justice is actively committed to supporting system-impacted communities and has been a force for reform,” Represent Justice Ambassador Kerry Myers said.
But of course, it’s not the only shift felt. The killing of George Floyd in May 2020 ignited an unprecedented national uprising against police violence across the country. As a campaign that works to demand an end to systemic racism in the justice system and society at large, we were once again able to redirect the focus of the campaign to meet the needs of the moment. Through a call to match contributions, we were able to donate $20,000 to national bail funds to support those who were arrested for exercising their rights to protest.
“It was imperative that the work of Represent Justice not end now.” Julio Marcial, board member at Represent Justice, said. “This is a critical time in the fight for criminal justice reform. The fractures in our justice system have come to a head, and now more than ever it’s crucial to have an organization that amplifies the voice and leadership of those directly-impacted by the system so we change it.”
Stay tuned for more of what’s to come and for the latest, follow us @werepjustice on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.