LSA 46’S SOCIAL JUSTICE DAY PROVIDES A SOBERING BUT RESTORATIVE PERSPECTIVE ON POVERTY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES IN SAN ANTONIO
The Leadership San Antonio 46 Social Justice Day started at Frost Tower with a poetic performance from San Antonio Poet Laureate Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, accompanied by musician Jed Craddock.
Next, they visited Frank M. Tejeda Jr. Juvenile Justice Center, where they observed juvenile court cases. The Honorable William “Cruz” Shaw and his team arranged for the class to be split into three courts: Judge Cruz Shaw, Judge Carlos Quezada, and Judge Jacqueline Valdez. In one courtroom, Judge Valdez presided over a capital murder case involving two teenagers. She noted an increase in juvenile cases involving guns in recent years. She said, “It used to be that a police officer would pull a car full of juveniles over and one of them would have a gun. Now they pull a car over and all of them have guns.”
The next stop was the SA Food Bank where LSA 46 toured the warehouse and culinary facility to learn about the Texas Second Chance program. The Texas Second Chance program provides professional training in warehousing, inventory, culinary skills, and an opportunity to gain certifications that will help trustees gain employment after incarceration. SA Food Bank CEO, Eric Cooper, said, “a workforce is not diverse unless it includes the formerly incarcerated.” We heard moving testimony from Wayne Griffin who first heard about the Food Bank fourteen years ago while incarcerated and participating in the Texas Second Chance Program. Wayne now works to advance the development efforts of the Food Bank.
Our next speaker, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, delivered a message about affordable housing, The Alamo Promise initiative, and efforts to fund council districts more equitably.
Brittney K Barnette, bestselling author, attorney, and criminal reform advocate, shared her story via video. The daughter of a formerly incarcerated woman, Brittany’s work has resulted in freedom for numerous people serving fundamental death sentences for federal drug offenses, including seven granted clemencies from President Barack Obama. The class was given a copy of her book, “A Knock at Midnight”.
Lunch was catered by The Food Bank’s social enterprise, Catalyst Catering, another program geared toward employing those deserving a second chance. We then heard from Police Chief William McManus who gave his perspective on gun violence, school safety and the recent incidence of school violence in Uvalde.
An afternoon panel discussion featured LSA Alumna and District 4 City Councilwoman Dr. Adriana Rocha Garcia along with Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert. The panel was moderated by Yousef Kassim, CEO and co-founder of Easy Expunctions, a for-profit company that uses technology to help expunge arrest records. The panel talked about their work toward equitable outcomes in our community.
The day wrapped at the top of Frost Tower with Grammy nominated musician Saul Paul. Paul’s work has been featured on America’s Got Talent, The Kennedy Center of Performing Arts, and Austin City Limits. Paul overcame foster care and a prison incarceration to go on to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin. Saul Paul pulled at heartstrings with his story and had us all laughing and dancing.
LSA 46 Social Justice Day was a powerful culmination of what happens when people from varied lived experiences, cultures and backgrounds come together to address concerns and needs in the community. The hope is that highlighting the need for social justice will help us all move toward it.
For resources on how to get involved in Social Justice issues please visit this page.
Social Justice Highlight Video