At Schwabe, we are dedicated to leading diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and are continually working to create a place for learning, dialogue, and growth for all of our employees. To bring our firm together in a space to foster open communication around these important issues, we invited Schwabe alumna Jamila Johnson and Schwabe’s Diversity Committee Chair Joe Straus to lead a Juneteenth Education Forum.

We’re grateful to Jamila for taking the time to help our attorneys and staff understand the history and importance of Juneteenth. Jamila is currently a Managing Attorney for the Promise of Justice Initiative’s Unanimous Jury Project, headquartered in New Orleans.

Today, Jamila helped Schwabe learn about this historic date through a video on the history and significance of Juneteenth. Jamila then discussed the historic and remaining legacy and links between slavery in the United States, Jim Crow juries, and mass prison incarceration. Here are just a few of the key takeaways:

  1. Our justice system does not retroactively work to repair harm. It values finality and efficiency above justice.
  2. Slavery is still in operation in the United States, in the form of prison labor. The Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola, has over 6,000 inmates, some of whom make as little as $0.02 per hour with limited to no access to mental and physical health care, and many of whom have been wrongly convicted for life.
  3. We don’t have to be located in Louisiana to help. Learn more about the Unanimous Jury Project here.

We thank Jamila for her time, compassion, and grace in helping our firm understand the significance of this date. The Juneteenth discussion was invaluable for so many of us and is an important step in Schwabe’s work to create an inclusive, educational place with opportunities to have difficult conversations that will help our clients, communities, and employees overcome the systemic racism and prejudices that undeniably exist.

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