AJC’s mission is to provide the tools for people of color and people who are marginalized to improve their lives by being the driving force behind their own liberation.
We believe that economic and racial equity for people of color in Austin is attainable through collaborative work.
We recognize that there are many avenues to equity, and believe that people of color can be empowered by having knowledge, access, and involvement in as many of these as possible.
We believe in uniting people of all colors to be catalysts for change.
We understand that change comes in many forms, and we are strong proponents of coalition building.
WHO AJC SERVES
Director of Operations
at Higher Learning
Social Media Manager, Community Service
João Paulo M. Connolly
AJC serves people who are historically and systematically impacted by gentrification, segregation, over policing, a lack of educational and employment opportunities, and other institutional forms of racism in Austin.
AJC’s PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
AJC accomplishes its mission by focusing in four key areas of advocacy and equity:
Education opportunities for young and adult people of color, as a lack of equity and opportunities in schools, employment, healthcare, policing, and politics requires additional education in order to bridge gaps
Policy in criminal justice reform as well as future involvement in education, economic development, and immigration reform
Community Empowerment to provide opportunities for people of color and other marginalized groups to be their own best voice and increase control over their lives
Civic Engagement to foster contact and communication between civic leaders and the public and to increase the presence of people of color in local government in Austin
Austin Justice Coalition (AJC) is a community organization that focuses on improving the quality of life for people who are Black, Brown, and poor. Since 2015, AJC has served as a catalyst for positive change towards economic and racial equity for Austin’s people of color by developing, organizing, and providing robust programs and events. AJC’s big four areas of advocacy are education, policing, civic engagement, and community building.
The need for change in Austin’s racial and economic climate is unquestionable. Austin is one of the fastest growing major cities in the country – experiencing a 20.4% population growth between 2000 and 2010 – yet it is the only major city to experience a decline in the Black community – experiencing a -5.4% in the same decade.
A recent poll concluded that the significant out-migration of Black people from Austin is due to segregation followed by gentrification, and the resultant lack of affordable housing and hikes in property tax. In addition, employment opportunities for Black people are sparse in a city that touts itself as a technosphere, but where Black people have little access or training in technology. This is due in part to education disparities, yet another reason that Black people are leaving Austin. Policing is also another major factor in the exodus of Black people from Austin, as they are disproportionately stopped, searched, and arrested. According to the 2014 Annual Report from the Office of the Police Monitor:
Blacks/African Americans make up 8% of the voting age population within the City of Austin but filed 31% of the External Formal complaints in 2014. This translates to a difference of 23% (almost four times) between their representation in the population and the percentage of External Formal complaints filed.
Blacks/African Americans accounted for 12% of the stops and 24% of the searches.
Blacks/African Americans had a 1 in 6 chance of being searched if stopped, also the same as 2012 and 2013. The probability of Caucasians being searched once stopped was 1 in 22 in 2014 and 1 in 20 in 2013.
In looking at arrest numbers from the 2014 APD Response to Resistance report and comparing these numbers to the voting age population of the City of Austin, AJC can see that Blacks/African Americans were arrested at a rate 17% (three times) higher than their representation in the voting age population of Austin.
Blacks/African Americans made up 24% of all arrests in Austin in 2014 and accounted for 28% of the force used during the course of the arrest. By comparison, Caucasians made up 40% of the arrests but only 34% of the force used. Simply put, Blacks/African Americans had force used more while Caucasians had force used less than their percentage of arrests.
Fortunately, Austin Justice Coalition and other community organizations have already begun to shift Austin’s racial and economic landscape. AJC is at the forefront of a movement that increasingly draws attention to issues facing communities of color, devises solutions to uplift and empower those communities, and implements them through engagement.
AJC’s strategic planning process began the summer of 2016, with the understanding that AJC would continue to take a central role to help Black and Brown communities prepare for the necessary changes to elicit the racial and economic equity they so badly need.
AJC understands that in today’s racially charged environment that Black and Brown citizens are under great stress across most factors of their lives. AJC is focused on providing these communities with resources for housing, scholarships, business startup, legal assistance, and more that go underused or untapped, as well as offering opportunities to enrich Black and Brown communities through frequent educational programs and engagement activities to promote blackness and brownness. AJC is now widely regarded as one of the leading advocacy organizations in the city by activists in its rapidly growing membership, community residents, civic leaders, and counterparts.
AJC’s refined strategy continues to create direct and indirect impact in communities of color by influencing changes in local government and advocating for policy reform. This strategy builds on AJC’s experience and knowledge from its work thus far.