Ask The DA: Race & Law

March 19, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Charles J. Hynes
Brooklyn District Attorney

I am very proud to announce a proclamation between my office and Medgar Evers College announcing our plans to hold an annual symposium on the impact of race and law on society to take place every February coinciding with Black History Month.

I believe that it is important to educate the community concerning issues such as race and discrimination and their impact on law and society. And it is important to reach people at an early age to steer them in the right direction. We have come a long way in the fight against discrimination, but it still exists in our society. One of the goals of the symposium is to educate the community, especially our youth, about their history and civic responsibility, and how to use the court system to bring about change as others have done before them. It will enable the participants to not only better themselves but to also make a positive impact on society.

The idea for the symposiums came about when participants of my office’s Youth and Congregations in Partnership (YCP) Program created a documentary entitled “Slavery and the Law.” The documentary shows the Brooklyn teens creating murals while learning about the history of slavery and the different laws that were passed, first allowing slavery, then abolishing it, and how history shaped public policy. The students learned about the Underground Railroad, Jim Crow laws and the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision which declared state sponsored segregation unconstitutional. The documentary was funded by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation.

The symposiums will be an annual discussion where important issues such as racial injustice and the criminal justice system are discussed. People in the community will be educated about their history and how it shaped current society, and everyone in attendance can suggest solutions to solve the issues confronting us as a society today.

Featured speakers will include professors, lawyers, historians, public policymakers and experts in a wide variety of fields. I have re-issued my book “Incident at Howard Beach,” which details the 1986 hate-crime murder case in which three African-American men were chased by a large group of teen thugs leading to the brutal assault of one victim and the death of another. The royalties from the sales of the re-issued book will go to funding the annual symposium.

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