This section is dedicated to sharing tools that might be helpful to our peer civil rights experts, policy advocates, community leaders and parents in their efforts to advance the civil rights movement or seek remedies for particular situations.
In these times, fighting for racial justice through disparate, isolated efforts is an inefficient luxury.
When we began The Civil Rights Project, we noted a dangerous separation between the academic and advocacy communities. A major goal of the Project has been to encourage our collaborating scholars to interact with advocacy groups in order to better understand how their research can be used within the context of legal battles, lobbying efforts, and the larger national debates. At the same time, we believe that such collaborations help inform the agendas and strategies adopted by advocates.
Research products win marginal media attention if they are not tied to related findings elsewhere, and to policy controversies that can claim the attention of decisionmakers and the public. Litigators who construct and file suits without benefit of current research stand reduced chances of success. Civil rights advocates unaware of studies that could strengthen their public appeals are too easily marginalized, or may advocate policies already debunked by sound research. If one thing has become clear to us in five years, it is that widespread policy changes will occur only through more effective coordination between advocates, lawyers and researchers.
Civil rights groups not only wish to win victories, but to be sure that they are fighting for remedies that will actually work. Researchers need to know that the problems they are working on are the real issues before society, not simply a current fashion in a given discipline. We have been very pleased to learn that the researchers we identified continue to interact with advocacy groups, much to their mutual benefit.
New polls show that the current generation of college students are more idealistic and service oriented than any since the 1960's. If we can work collaboratively with like-minded organizations to effectively harness such positive energy, we could help to unleash a new civil rights movement as powerful and far-reaching as the one that occurred almost a half century ago.