Imani, Jakada


Jakada Imani is the Executive Director of The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a non-profit strategy and action center working for justice, opportunity and peace in urban America.

An Opportunity We Can't Afford To Miss

By Jakada Imani
The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

We've heard it before - "the green economy is here" and "green jobs are on the way!" At the Ella Baker Center, we put time, energy, and money into building training programs and promoting the idea of the "new," green economy. Just a few years later, the economy crashed and green jobs became fewer and farther between than anticipated.

Now, more than ever, jobs of any kind are hard to find. But a weak economy doesn't make the bad air any less harmful, or the energy bills we pay any more affordable. In a sustainable, healthy economy, people shouldn't have to settle for grey jobs. Fortunately, Jerry Brown has a plan to fight unemployment and put more Californians to work fixing up houses and apartments to reduce energy consumption- the renewal and reform of the Public Goods Charge.

California’s Turning Tide on Youth Prisons

By Jakada Imani
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

Seven years ago, Books Not Bars started calling for closing California’s youth prisons. People laughed in our faces. Literally. Even reformers who agreed in private, thought we were foolish to call for shuttering the largest set of youth prisons in the Country.

Monday, Governor Jerry Brown presented a plan to do just that. In the $12.5 billion in spending cuts was a proposal to close the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) youth prisons by 2014.

The Color of Prop 23

By Jakada Imani
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

All of the polling to date tells us that voters of color will be the deciding factor for Proposition 23, the Texas Oil company attack on California's clean air law.  Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Prop, a deep and broad coalition has come together to make sure voters of color don't fall for polluter-promoted lies.   Communities United is made up of the state's most well respected social/environmental justice and community-based organizations.  

Our core partners will focus in their own backyards.  It also happens to be in the very communities that are most negatively impacted by pollution and have the most to gain by protecting the state's clean air laws.   Already, more than 80 Latino, African American and Asian/Pacific Islander Groups have come together to form this historic grassroots campaign.

California School Reform Shouldn't Look Like This

Jakada Imani
The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

The California State Department of Education recently released student performance rankings based on standardized tests. In the suburban Pleasanton school district, every single school scored in the top 20 percent statewide.  In the city of Oakland, however, 50% of our schools received the lowest possible rank.

On the heel of these new rankings, the California budget was released- cutting school budgets to the bone. Additionally the Governor is championing Senate Bill 955 which would attack the rights of school employees to have a due process in firings and would disregard seniority in layoffs. Though SB955 is being portrayed as good for low income communities of color, in truth it's just a divide-and-conquer strategy to attack unions and shift the debate away from the schools' lack of resources as the root of our educational problems.