Dillard to launch Center for Racial Justice to focus on policing and other racial issues

DUCIEF building at Dillard University. (Photo by Sabree Hill/ Dillard University Photographer)

NEW ORLEANS – Dillard University will launch its Center for Racial Justice (CRJ) in July 2020 in response to the mounting police brutality cases in the United States. As a historically Black university, Dillard is set to become the leading educational conduit between law enforcement, community leaders, and citizens in New Orleans and the nation. 

In an assessment of the racial climate, the CRJ believes that “minority and ethnic communities have become increasingly competent in understanding the role of law enforcement, and the expectation for professionalism has been elevated from previous years” said Dr. Ashraf Esmail, the inaugural director of the CRJ. This is especially important in the digital age where there is no room to hide. Police misconduct can be filmed and sent worldwide in seconds and because of this, the CRJ insists that law enforcement be vigilant and do the right thing to stop the pattern of heinous crimes against people of color. 

One member of the CRJ advisory board is Kristen Clarke, President & Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Communities are demanding policing reform and racial justice now,” Clarke said in a statement. “I am excited to be a part of this important work with Dillard University which can bring about systemic change in Louisiana and across the country.” Other members of the advisory board will include current and former law enforcement officers, judges, and law enforcement and criminal justice experts. 

The mission of CRJ is to bring systemic change to the way policing is done in communities of color and to promote partnerships with law enforcement including police departments and sheriff’s offices, graduate, and professional schoolsThe CRJ will be a reservoir for lectures, research, advocacy training, civic engagement, and political participation. It will also brand Dillard University as the top choice for undergraduates seeking meaningful careers in or related to law enforcement and a place for expanded public interest discourse, workshops, and distinguished lectures. CRJ’s goal is to change the way people of color and their communities are policed through education, community relationship building, civic engagement training, services, partnerships, and utilization of relevant resources. The center will develop a 30-hour certificate program, offering courses such as: Policing in Society, Sociology of Black Americans, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Social Welfare, Policy and Services and Leadership in Ethical Decision Making. 

There will also be a course focused on criminal justice and cultural diversity. This course will explore challenges in multicultural communities, changing law enforcement agencies, and the hiring practices of employing and retaining people with diverse backgrounds in law enforcement institutions. For more information on the Center for Racial Justice at Dillard University, please contact Dr. Ashraf Esmail, program coordinator of Dillard’s Criminal Justice program at aesmail@dillard.edu

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