National Conference for Community and Justice

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Official logo of the National Conference for Community and Justice, Connecticut/Western Massachusetts.

NCCJ was founded in 1927 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, in response to anti-Catholic sentiment being expressed during Al Smith's run for the Democratic nomination. Its founders included prominent social activists such as Jane Addams and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes who dedicated the organization to bringing diverse people together to address interfaith divisions.

By the late 20th century, NCCJ expanded its work to include all issues of social justice including race, class, gender equity, sexual orientation and the rights of people with different abilities. In the 1990s, the name was changed to the National Conference for Community and Justice to better reflect the breadth and depth of its mission, the growing diversity of the country and the need to be more inclusive. Their mission was to promote "inclusion and acceptance by providing education and advocacy while building communities that are respectful and just for all."[1]

In 2005, the national organization dissolved, with individual chapters either closing or becoming independent nonprofits. Today, many of these now independent organizations are members of the National Federation for Just Communities, a network of nonprofits working to promote compassion and justice and fight bias, bigotry and racism in communities across the United States.[2]

Programs and events[edit]

Through its youth and adult programming, NCCJ works with students, teachers, clergy, corporate, and civic leaders to facilitate workshops, develop curriculum, convene race relations and inter-religious dialogues, and provide consulting on challenges related to bias, bigotry, and racism.

ANYTOWN[edit]

ANYTOWN is NCCJ's premiere youth program, and has existed for over 50 years in America. Many similar programs (in name and content) emerged across the country, including Metrotown, Everytown, and Unitown. ANYTOWN is designed to educate, liberate, and empower youth participants (ages 14–18) to become effective, responsible leaders and community builders in a global society. ANYTOWN brings together a diverse group of students and counselors to learn to identify the many "isms" in our society, including racism, sexism, antisemitism, heterosexism, classism, cissexism, and ableism. Students examine in-depth prejudice and its byproduct discrimination, enhance their communication skills, and prepare to take their knowledge and skills into their schools and communities to make them more just and inclusive for all.

The year-long program launches with a week-long social justice residential experience focusing on prejudice reduction, community building and leadership for high school age youth.

In Arizona, Anytown began in the late 1950s as a week-long "brotherhood" camp at a site near Prescott. High schools across the state sent one or more delegates, most of whom had just completed their junior year, a handful their sophomore year. For each group of eight or ten delegates, there was a counselor -- a young person who had been an Anytown delegate a year or two before. There were also adult leaders: each from a different faith, with emphasis as well on racial diversity. These adults included Camille Bursu, an octogenarian from Tucson who survived a Nazi concentration camp; Ms Bursu lead a yoga session first thing each morning. Another adult leader was Emory Barnes, a member of the Gospel quartet Wings Over Jordan. The program during the week included small-group discussions, mornings and afternoons, exploring race and religion, and evening campfire programs.

Bridges[edit]

Bridges is a two-day anti-bullying, prejudice reduction, self-esteem building program for middle and high school students.

YAC (Youth Action Coalition)[edit]

The Youth Action Coalition is a group run by and for youth to increase their understanding and develop action around social justice issues.

Different and the Same[edit]

Different and the Same is an elementary school program where teachers are trained to use curriculum consisting of videos and activities to address the challenging issues of bias and differences.

Interfaith Programs[edit]

NCCJ’s interfaith programs are designed to promote understanding and respect among all religions and philosophical beliefs.

NCCJ Workplace[edit]

NCCJ also offers customized training for corporations, organizations and educational institutions doing business in today’s multicultural world that look at the systems of oppression and privilege, enhances communications skills, builds cultural competences and creates more inclusive work environments. Topics include, but are not limited to; Race, Gender, LGBTQ, Abilities, Class, and more.

Walk as One[edit]

Walk as One is an annual community walk-a-thon. Each walk-a-thon is held in a major urban area, and serves to spotlight NCCJ's efforts in each community in which it serves. Preceding, during, and following the walk-a-thon itself is a one- to two-hour open air gathering which involves area vendors, music performances, side entertainment and non-profits.

History[edit]

In 1927, The New York Times announced the founding of the National Conference of Christians and Jews by community leaders from different faiths including Jane Addams, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, and Benjamin N. Cardozo. The founders were committed to bringing diverse people together to address interfaith divisions, race relations, and social and economic barriers among people of different faiths, cultures, and ethnicities.

Franklin D. Roosevelt remarks, Brotherhood Week, Feb. 19-28, 1943

The Tolerance Trio, consisting of Minister Dr. Everett Ross Clinchy, Rabbi Morris Samuel Lazaron, and Father John Elliot Ross, traveled across America in 1933, calling all people to embrace intergroup understanding. The Trio covered over 9,000 miles, visiting 129 audiences around the country. One year later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the precursor of Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week, held annually during the third week in February (originally Feb. 19-28, 1943), as its first Honorary Chairman. NCCJ sponsored the week-long event from the 1940s through the 1980s. Tom Lehrer satirized the idea in his song of the same name, recorded on That Was the Year That Was. During the second World War, the NCCJ religious trio provided spiritual guidance to the armed forces, reaching over eight million enlistees.

In the 1950s, the NCCJ began its award-winning residential youth leadership institutes, including their ANYTOWN program, all of which are still offered across America. In addition to ANYTOWN, programs such as the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Camp, Mini-Town, MetroTown, It's Your Move, Unitown, Building Bridges, Camp Odyssey, and Knowledge and Social Responsibility were formed during this time, helping to spread the NCCJ's message across the country.

President John F. Kennedy commended the NCCJ in 1961 for doing more than "perhaps any other factor in our national life to provide for harmonious living among our different religious groups." In 1977, the NCCJ led a nationwide series of institutes on the Holocaust, leading to an Act of Congress establishing the National Holocaust Remembrance Week. Nearly a decade later, the organization established the precursor to today's Seminarians Interacting initiative. In 1994, the NCCJ issued a groundbreaking nationwide survey of attitudes on intergroup relations called Taking America's Pulse.

One year later, the NCCJ started a series of nationally telecast National Conversations on Race, Ethnicity, and Culture at the Library of Congress. Partnering with Aetna, Inc., these Conversations were created to enlighten people about the various cultures that exist within society, to encourage and broaden dialogue among people who have limited interaction with those of different backgrounds, and to create more welcoming environments in the workplace and society at large.[3]

At the White House's request, the organization convened faith leaders and began a long-term racial reconciliation in 1998. Two years later, the NCCJ issued its second nationwide survey of attitudes on intergroup relations, Taking America's Pulse II. Today, the NCCJ's mission, as it has been in the past, is to eliminate all forms of prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination. The organization's programming, research, and public policy efforts are directed at transforming our communities to make them more inclusive and just for all.

In 2005, the national NCCJ organization dissolved and individual chapters either closed or became independent nonprofits, moving from a unitary structure of governance to autonomous 501(c)(3) organizations to better respond to the dynamic environment of change faced by most nonprofits today.

Transition to Independent Organizations[edit]

After the dissolution of the national NCCJ organization in 2005, the NCCJ name and website were retained by the office operating in western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. Other offices adopted variations of the name, such as NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad (based in Greensboro, North Carolina).[4] However, most offices changed their names to reflect a more local or regional identity. For example, the office in Virginia became the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, while the office in Tulsa became the Oklahoma Conference for Community and Justice.[5] [6]

Several of these former NCCJ chapters around the country organized in a loose national organization, the National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC).[7] The NFJC is a coalition of like-minded organizations working across America to bring the values of diversity, inclusion, and social justice to our schools, workplaces, and communities. Each member organization operates independently, with the NFJC acting to support its member organizations in the human relations work of building community by advancing inclusion and justice throughout the United States.

As of 2017, the following organizations were members of NFJC:

Today, these regional and local organizations originally founded as NCCJ chapters continue to draw upon NCCJ's proud tradition of championing the cause of social justice for all and its mission of fighting bias, bigotry, and racism in all its forms and to work toward building strong and inclusive communities.

Corporate partners[edit]

As a national organization, NCCJ's corporate partners included Aetna, ING, the MetLife Foundation, Prudential, Federal Express, and Darden Restaurants.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ National Conference for Community and Justice. "Our Story"
  2. ^ "National Federation for Just Communities". National Federation for Just Communities.
  3. ^ One America - National Conversation on Race, Ethnicity, and Culture "National Conversations on Race, Ethnicity, and Culture"
  4. ^ "NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad". NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad.
  5. ^ "Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities". Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.
  6. ^ "Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice". Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice.
  7. ^ "National Federation for Just Communities". National Federation for Just Communities.

[NCCJ 1]

  1. ^ Papallo, Jason. "Marketing & E-Communications Specialist". NCCJ.org. NCCJ. Retrieved 23 October 2017.

External links[edit]