From Anita Earls is the executive director and founder of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ). The SCSJ has a wide scope of action and goals.
Anita Earls is the executive director and founder of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ). The SCSJ has a wide scope of action and goals.
Anita Earls works to make the voting process more open and transparent
August 3, 5:21 PMNC Statehouse Examiner, Martha Brock
Anita Earls has a resume that could easily land her a high paying job litigating for a top law firm. In fact her first job after graduation from Yale Law was with the famous civil rights firm headed by Julius Chambers. Earls later served in the Clinton Administration as Janet Reno’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at US Department of Justice.
Instead of cashing in on her impressive credentials and experience Earls works for a small non-profit group in Durham. Earls is executive director and founder of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), a position she has held since September 2007. From 2003 to 2007, she was director of advocacy at the UNC Center for Civil Rights.
She is also one of the three Democrats appointed by Governor Perdue to the State Board of Elections in 2009. She was one of the two new appointees, the other being Republican William Peasley of Raleigh.
The SCSJ has a wide scope of action and its goals are to
1. Create a worker-managed entity that is a fulfilling community to nurture and sustain social justice work and workers.
2. Provide the highest quality legal advice and to poor and minority communities engaged in social change efforts.
3. Bring the best social science research (whether litigation or policy-related), communications strategies and community organizing skills to serve community priorities.
4. Have substantive priorities that are community-determined.
5. Build coalitions across community lawyering organizations in the South and between national organizations and local community groups
Recent projects have centered on promoting work involving the census so that everyone, especially minorities, who are traditionally under-counted, can be included in the 2010 Census.
The work on the Census is key to its current priority, preparing for the redistricting state legislatures in 2011. Earls has extensive experience in voting rights litigation and argued a case involving two US House Districts in NC before the US Supreme Court defending the maps drawn by the NC General Assembly.
Two training sessions were sponsored last week in Durham in preparation for the upcoming redistricting in 2011. The expert witness for attorneys training was closed to the public, but the other people who participated are experts in cartography (map making). The session for attorneys lasted all week and ended on Saturday, July 31.
Earls says, “We already know generally about the populations shifts and we need the final census data.” Then her group will focus on “resdistricting and getting legislatures to represent all citizens at all levels of governments from the local school board to the federal level.”
While SCSJ works with several Souherrn states including North Carolina, Earls is very familiar with NC and its voting patterns and problems resulting from past mapping used to create the voting districts. She says that the population shift in NC has meant that the population in the East, where the minority population numbers are high, has fallen. Most of the growth has been in urban areas including the Raleigh-Durham area and Mecklenburg County.
Earls says SCSJ really wants to see the process of creating the US House Districts and legislative districts a more open and transparent process. “We want to make it so a citizens’ organization could propose their own redistricting map–for example, the Wake School Board.districts.”
“Maybe three or four community groups could form coalitions and could work together.”
The organization’s web site has a wealth of information on voting rights and related topics. To check it out go http://www.examiner.com/x-58582-NC-Statehouse-Examiner~y2010m8d3-Anita-Earls-works-to-make-the-voting-process-more-open-and-transparent