Urban League and Shelby County mayor to host virtual summit on police reform in the South

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, Memphis Urban League President Tonja Sesley-Baymon, and six chapters of the National Urban League will host the Southern Justice Summit on Tuesday, July 14.

The virtual event will focus on criminal justice programs and policies that have been successfully adopted in communities across the South.

Topics include knowing your rights, key reforms like chokehold bans and “duty to intervene" policies, and best practices from around the South that address the roots underlying problems of race and justice in the region.

Harris said this moment in history is a chance to have serious conversations around racism and “broken systems” that disproportionately affect black Mid-Southerners.

“With over half of black Americans residing in the South, we want to shine a spotlight on what is working and what can be done better so that when they write history books about what we do today, the South will be on the right side,” said Harris.

Sesley-Baymon said it’s all too common that Americans witness the inappropriate actions and racism of authority figures and law enforcement. But, she said, black Americans have endured such atrocities for generations and now is not the time to look away.

“Today, America stands at a crossroad,” said Sesley-Baymon. “Do we have the will and determination to rise above 400 years of bigotry and racism? Are we ready to guarantee justice for all of us?”

She said the summit serves as an opportunity to acknowledge racially motivated violence as a plague on communities of color while still taking note of the nuggets that do still have value.

The six Urban League partners for the Southern Justice Summit include the four Tennessee affiliates—Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville—as well the Birmingham, Alabama and Lexington, Kentucky chapters.

The event starts at 9:30 a.m. and runs into the afternoon.

The numerous panelists and discussion leaders hail from eight states and include attorneys, judges, and local public servants, including Shelby County Commissioners Tami Sawyer and Reginald Milton.

Register here or find more information, a full schedule, and speaker lineup: www.southernjusticesummit.com.

Read more articles by Cole Bradley.

Cole Bradley is a native Memphian and graduate of the University of Memphis. Cole's worked locally as a researcher and community engagement strategist and began contributing to High Ground in Jan 2017. 
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