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Black Lives Matter Resource Guide: Home

The Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law Legal Research Center is putting together action steps and resources for any and all to connect with their communities and protect and assist people of color.

The BREATHE Act

The BREATHE Act has just been unveiled by the Electoral Justice Project for the Movement for Black Lives, outlining a bill with comprehensive plans to defund, divest, and demilitarize brutal policing practices, decarcerate our prison industrial complex, hold officials accountable, and reinvest in black communities. More information can be found on our Goals page.

Where Do I Begin? ⚠️THIS GUIDE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS⚠️ Check back often.

Everyone browsing this page is likely familiar with this nation's long history of institutionalized racism, but to better understand the experience of what it means to be black or brown in America, it's necessary to educate oneself. There is always more to learn.

You are likely familiar with the general mission of the Black Lives Matter organization and its movement. If you have not already, you should use the resources and tools on their website, find and join your local chapter, and consider donating your time and your money to their cause and make it your own. 

The fight for social and legal justice reform, the fight to dismantle the infrastructures of oppression and inequality baked into the legal system, the fight for valuing and protecting and standing up for black and brown lives doesn't start in the streets, it starts at home. And right now, during this pandemic, we are all at home. 

Your job begins with you. Then your family. Then your world. Racism and prejudice are not born in a vacuum; they are learned but they are also inherited, through conscious and unconscious behaviors, reactions, microaggressions, far beyond outward ideologies. Talk to your parents, your uncles, your aunts, your grandparents, your siblings, your friends, and your colleagues. Do not avoid conversations because they are uncomfortable. Every unchecked remark is a missed opportunity to reach out and open a mind before that thought or remark snowballs into oppressive action or oppressive inaction.

Then start here: https://campusphilly.org/2020/06/02/black-lives-matter-action-steps-to-take/

You can also take action by teaching yourself. Whether you live in Philadelphia or another city or a small town, research it, uncover its history--make it your mission to identify the structures of oppression, be they acts of police brutality, redlining, or gentrification. Learn what was purposefully not taught to you in school. Learn about acts of police terrorism against people of color, like the Philadelphia MOVE bombing. Teach yourself about your local histories of corrupt politicians and their racist actions and legacies, like that of Philadelphia's former mayor, Frank Rizzo.

Learn empathy for all those affected, attacked, and displaced by these actions, take those feelings of despair and rage and love for your fellow man and make it a tool to understand why removing monuments that are seen by many to be painful symbols of oppression--like the removal of the statue of Frank Rizzo and the painting over of his mural--are a necessary part of just one small step in the right direction.

Use it to understand why merely erasing visibility of these monuments is NOT an erasure of ugly truths and histories that need to be held accountable.

Use it to understand that even replacing those symbols with monuments to great black and brown leaders and community organizers would be just another small step on the road to reform.

Use your energy and angst to join with other activists who are working to uphold black and brown communities by staying informed, by protesting, supporting protestors, taking legal action, joining local and national organizations, serving and upholding justice, and documenting and preserving truth. We've got a few resources to get you started.

Thanks & Acknowledgements

Beyond the Legal Research Center and Kline School of Law staff, the office of Diversity, Inclusion & Student Belonging, and our law school community, we'd like to thank others who have helped share their resources, and encourage anyone to share suggestions and send us links for inclusion. 

Special thanks as well to The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, Laura Pennington, Michelle Macinsky, and Samantha Shain, for sharing their resources with us.

Dean Dan Filler's Remarks

Dear Kline Law Community:
 
We are living through an incredibly difficult moment. People are quarantined due to a global pandemic. We have witnessed the murder of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. There is a leadership void. Every moment is fraught.
 
But we must acknowledge that much of the stress and pain of this moment is a daily reality for too many Americans. We cannot look away from the fact that our own government is policing African Americans to death. We cannot deny that the daily lived experience of moving through the world as an African American person is uniquely challenging. That is not to deny the challenges others face; it is simply to acknowledge that the color of one’s skin multiplies every difficulty, and injects danger into even the most anodyne life moments.
 
And we cannot look away from the fact that large portions of American society argue that African Americans are entitled to no recourse at all – whether peacefully, by taking a knee at a football game, or otherwise. Many people even reject activism at the ballot box. For example, in city after city, citizens elect district attorneys who make fighting racism in the legal system and in law enforcement a central priority. And in each city, many who would identify as progressive community leaders work to dismantle this activism-by-the-majority. Anti-racism always seems to take a back seat. It is always a problem to be addressed at some other time or in some other place.
 
We have arrived at this moment because America would prefer to ignore our painful shared reality, a truth that is squarely rooted in the American sin of slavery. Africans were brought to this continent against their will. More than four hundred years later, there remains broad support for some version of continued subjugation. Few people will acknowledge this directly, but our actions as a society speak louder than our words.
 
In my role as dean, I know that I am expected to maintain a neutral pose. But the fight for justice is inherently political. In my role as a lawyer/citizen/human, I see this veneer of neutrality as a form of support for the oppression of African Americans. My work in criminal defense and special education advocacy was putatively race-neutral, but I would have had to willfully close my eyes to miss that my clients were disproportionately people of color – and that the various states in which I worked deprived the rights of these people of color with machine-like consistency. I am unable to be neutral.
 
This is a moment of profound emotional pain, but it is also a deeply political one. I am more than willing to state that Black Lives Matter. But even for those most comfortable with the credo that all lives matter, it is time to act like it.
 
The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional conduct, state that “a lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is…a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.” We are called to join with colleagues, classmates, and the broader community to embrace this special responsibility, continuing the slow but essential work of dismantling the powerful remains of America’s original sin.
 
Sincerely,
Daniel M. Filler
Dean and Professor of Law

Guide Creators

Questions? Suggestions? Contact:
Lindsay Steussy, Research and Instructional Services Librarian
phone: 215-571-4774 (currently not available)
 
Rob Irving, Library Operations Supervisor
phone: 215-571-4760
 
Amanda Houser, Research Assistant