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.

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 1998, 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 justice for all.[1]

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.[2]

ANYTOWN[edit]

ANYTOWN is NCCJ's 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.

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.

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]

The National Conference of Christians and Jews was founded in 1927 by community leaders from different faiths.[3] 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.[4]

Brotherhood Week[edit]

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

NCCJ announced Brotherhood Week on February 18, 1944.[5] President Franklin D. Roosevelt called upon citizens to participate. NCCJ sponsored the week-long event from the 1940s through the 1980s.[6]

Tom Lehrer satirized the idea in his song of the same name, recorded on That Was the Year That Was.

Youth leadership[edit]

In the 1950s, the NCCJ began its award-winning residential youth leadership institutes, including their ANYTOWN program. 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.

In 1994, the NCCJ issued a 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. 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.

In 2000, the NCCJ issued its second nationwide survey of attitudes on intergroup relations, Taking America's Pulse II.

Transition to Independent Organizations[edit]

By the early 2000s, the national NCCJ was facing financial trouble. Between fiscal year 2002 and fiscal year 2004, the organization's endowment dropped to $4 million, from about $22 million, because it covered regional deficits caused by a slow economy and reduced contributions. Some local chapters began to sever ties with the national organization, including the chapters in Buffalo, New York and Tulsa, Oklahoma. [7] [8]

By 2005, the national NCCJ organization had dissolved. Individual chapters either closed or became independent nonprofits, moving from a unitary structure of governance to autonomous 501(c)(3) organizations. The NCCJ name was 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).[9] 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.[10] [11]

Former NCCJ chapters that now operate independently include, but are not limited to:


  • MCCJ in Miami, Florida
  • NCCJ of Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama
  • OneJax in Jacksonville, Florida

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]

  1. ^ "National Conference of Christians and Jews Changes Its Name to Better Reflect Its Work and Inclusivity | The Pluralism Project". pluralism.org. Harvard University. 14 June 1998. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Addressing Cultural Appropriation in the Classroom: Tools and Resources". Education Week. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Conference Outlines a Wide Campaign of Good-Will Among All Classes". The New York Times. 11 December 1927. Retrieved 8 December 2018. PLANS EDUCATIONAL DRIVE; Fosters Communal Movements and Spirit of Understanding Among the Young; AIMS TO HARMONIZE NATIONAL GROUPS
  4. ^ "Guide to the National Conference of Christians and Jews Records". oac.cdlib.org. The Online Archive of California. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  5. ^ "National Conference of Christians and Jews Announces Measures Against Racial Bias". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 18 February 1944. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Whatever became of National Brotherhood Week?". Public Radio International. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  7. ^ "NCCJ Changes Name with New Affiliation". Buffalo Business First. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Tulsa's NCCJ Chapter Drops National Affiliation". Tulsa World. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  9. ^ "NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad". NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad.
  10. ^ "Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities". Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.
  11. ^ "Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice". Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice.

External links[edit]