The Direct Line Lawyering Project bridges the gap between radical Black lawyers and community- based criminal justice reform organizing in New York State. By providing access to legal expertise from radical Black lawyers, organizers and directly impacted community members will be more empowered, informed and prepared to take action. In this way, organizers, supported by radical Black lawyers, will also know that they are supported in their work and have access to legal representation if and when needed. Thru intentional statewide network building, radical Black lawyers will be connected with each other and infused into the movement work taking place across the state of New York. The Project also seeks to build connections across generations so that the lessons learned from senior radical Black lawyers can be shared with younger ones and thereby allow new concepts and strategies to be shaped in a historical context.
Soffiyah Elijah is the executive director of the Alliance of Families of Justice. After a powerful legal career as a criminal defense attorney and advocate for civil rights, Soffiyah became the first black woman to serve as Executive Director of the century-and-a-half old Correctional Association of New York. After five years defending human rights of those inside, Soffiyah and her dedicated community of supporters launched AFJ, her most ambitious move yet to forever alter the landscape of injustice in American courts and prisons. "Now is the most important time to get involved," she says. "Because we are right at the beginning of this great work. You can make a difference." Follow Soffiyah on Twitter @SoffiyahElijah.