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New Edward Waters College Institute Will Recommend Policy To Local, State Agencies

Edward Waters College sign on campus
Edward Waters College

Edward Waters College in Jacksonville announced Thursday that it will establish the A. Philip Randolph Institute for Law, Race, Social Justice and Economic Policy in the coming months thanks to a multi-year, six-figure grant from Jacksonville’s Jessie Ball DuPont Fund.

The college plans to hire an executive director/scholar-in-residence and use grant funds to provide opportunities for students, scholars, practitioners and community members to examine and exchange ideas related to race, law, criminal justice, and socioeconomic policy matters through research, lectures, symposia and scholarship, the historically Black college said in a news release.

“This is a tremendous opportunity and potentially transformative development for our institution and the greater Jacksonville community,” said Zachary Faison, EWC president and CEO, in the release. “It is also a timely initiative for all of us given the recent events that have occurred throughout the country over the past year heightening our collective scrutiny of matters of race, law, and the engagement of African-American citizens with law enforcement as well as the ongoing plight for social and economic equity that has come even more to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Over the coming years, the Randolph Institute will seek to accomplish “positive change” through research-based policy recommendations made to state and local Jacksonville governmental, law enforcement, business, civic, and economic development agencies. The goal: measurable improvements related to the intersectional matters of race, law, and social and economic justice.

An additional primary long-term goal of the Randolph Institute will be to increase public confidence and trust amongst all citizens and communities related to overall law enforcement interactions and to ensure equitable uses of discretion with regard to prosecutorial charging decisions made by district/state attorneys.

“The Randolph Institute represents a unique and powerful opportunity of making our community more open, equitable and inclusive,” said Mari Kuraishi, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, in the same release. “We are proud to honor the legacy of A. Philip Randolph by expanding opportunities for scholarship, open dialogue, and policy recommendations at a critical time for our community.

According to the college, “Asa Philip Randolph was a groundbreaking leader, organizer, and social activist who championed equitable labor rights for African American communities throughout the 20th century. He attended Edward Waters College from ages 14 to 16 before transferring to Bethune Cookman where he graduated. Randolph’s abilities as an organizer and trailblazer became the driving force in ending racial discrimination in government defense factories and desegregating the armed forces, both done through presidential decrees. He was a principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. Mr. Randolph passed away at the age of 90 and his ashes were interred at the A. Philip Randolph Institute in Washington, D.C.”

“I am confident that this bold decision by the Jesse Ball duPont Fund will inspire others to join us towards catalyzing additional support in achieving substantial and substantive outcomes to positively impact the lives of all our fellow citizens and particularly traditionally marginalized communities which is directly reflective of the spirit of A. Phillip Randolph and his life’s work,” Faison said.