Los Angeles-area Social Justice Program Announces Community Racial Justice Education Effort
Pomona, CA – A Los Angeles area human rights organization that rose to prominence during the 1992 Los Angeles riots is making its compelling racial justice education program available to community agencies, business and government organizations.
Dr. Renford Reese – now a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona – witnessed firsthand the tensions in South Central Los Angeles reach a breaking point. Reese, then a first- year doctoral student at the USC school for Public Policy, knew the event was a catalyst for change. Through intensive research and local outreach, he created Colorful Flags.
Reese mentored Rodney King and throughout the mid-90s, he brought Colorful Flags to schools, social service agencies, police departments and businesses across Southern California, engaging each organization with cultural competency-focused workshops. His scholarship and the current spotlight on racial inequality inspired him to bring back a version of Colorful Flags that is relevant and timely.
“Social justice education is the most fundamental and basic way we enlighten and transform our citizenry,” Reese said. “This is a pivotal time in our society where can make real change thanks to a combination of community activism and government understanding that our systems are flawed.”
Half of the facilitators on Reese’s training workshop team are formerly incarcerated. “We always talk about this population but we rarely hear from them,” Reese said.
Over the last 25 years, Reese has focused his teaching on criminal justice reform, restorative justice and social justice outreach. The California State University, the largest higher education system in the nation, now requires students who enroll in 2023-24 to complete a three-unit ethnic studies or social justice course. The new Colorful Flags workshop fits with this new initiative. In addition to social justice advocacy, criminal justice reform is a cornerstone of the program, taught by those who have a direct, personal connection to the American criminal justice system. Colorful Flags is centered on Ubuntu, a South African concept that embodies humanity – “I am because we are.” Reese’s ultimate goal is to use the program as a building block to transform local communities’ intercultural relationships by bringing the program back to schools, community organizations and local law enforcement agencies. “I have such incredible hope that we can create lasting change in our communities together through the positive medium of education and communication,” Reese said. “All it takes is a willingness to take that first step.”