This February, the Drug Policy Alliance is launching a month-long online tribute to Black drug policy reformers. At a time when the nation reflects upon the history and contributions of Black Americans, DPA seeks to raise awareness about the significant and far-reaching roles that Black authors, activists and movement builders have played and continue to play in drug policy reform.
Each week will feature its own category and honoree.
“The work of African Americans has often gone un-discussed when it was mentioned at all," said asha bandele, director of DPA's advocacy grants program. "Many have labored outside of the light and so the question has been asked time and again: Where are Black people in this movement?
"Why are they so silent despite the extraordinary ways in which the drug war has disassembled their communities, their lives, their very ability to breathe? But the answers to that are, we are here and have always been here despite mass criminalization and despite cultural dissonance in the non- profit world," bandele said.
"The answer is also that those in our movement who have looked outward for our presence should likely have looked inward," bandele said. "We were there, and this project means to prove that.”
Building on 2014’s Black Drug Policy History series that focused on the “Forerunners”, or those that laid the foundation for the current drug policy reform movement, like former mayor of Baltimore Kurt Schmoke, sociologist Troy Duster and trailblazer Deborah Peterson Small, this year’s series will focus on current “Groundbreakers.”