"Teaching Tolerance” project becomes “Learning for Justice,” with a new focus on impacting more Southern communities
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, newly named Learning for Justice, is now led by Jalaya Liles Dunn, a 20-year veteran education advocate who aims to expand the project into homes and communities with a specific focus in the South -- as the nation confronts COVID-19, systemic racism, white supremacy and the ever-growing threat of anti-government extremist groups, the organization announced today.
Now in its 30th year, the project, a popular resource among educators nationwide for producing award-winning classroom resources about racial and social justice issues, recently explored changing the name to one that better reflects its current values, mission, and pedagogical approach to reducing hate and bias through education. The new name, Learning for Justice, captures the program’s heightened commitment to working alongside communities for justice in the South and beyond.
“For the past 30 years, the Teaching Tolerance project has worked alongside educators to transform schools and classrooms into welcoming and inclusive environments that encourage students to be strong advocates for racial and social justice in their communities,” said SPLC President and CEO Margaret Huang. “The name of the project has not reflected the work we do for quite some time. As we become Learning for Justice, we will expand our outreach to parents and caregivers and work to support the entire community that supports children and young people to learn and grow.”
The SPLC welcomed Dunn last month to lead Learning for Justice. She brings two decades of experience in social and racial justice pedagogy, anti-bias training, advocacy, and movement building to her new role. Prior to joining the SPLC, Dunn served as the national director of the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools program and provided curriculum and professional development support and training to educators as a consultant.
“I am deeply honored to lead Learning for Justice and the future of anti-racism education at this crucial time of racial reckoning in the nation. Through movements like Black Lives Matter, there is renewed hope that together we can create more just, fair and equitable communities across the country, but it won’t be without a struggle against the ideologies and outright hatred that led to the attack on the nation’s Capitol this year or the brutal killings of unarmed Black people by police for the past several years, among other injustices we face.”
Learning for Justice will undergo several key changes to meet this great period of social change and the immediate need to boldly address the nation’s roots in racial genocide, systemic racism and white supremacy.
“As the country shifts, so must we in order to meet the challenges ahead,” Dunn said. “Our work will remain a purposeful and meaningful part of the SPLC’s legal, policy and public education strategies to battle racial and social injustice in the South and beyond.”
Learning for Justice will engage youth, schools, families and communities in intergenerational dialogue around the long history of race in the country, the multiple manifestations of racial injustice and the urgent need to build together a multiracial, multicultural democracy.
The future work of Learning for Justice will also uplift authentic storytelling, foster extensive learning communities, train new-generation change agents and demonstrate models of learning, justice and action on the ground.
In September 2020, the SPLC released a new poll showing overwhelming support across demographic groups for anti-racism education. When asked specifically about whether they supported “anti-racist education” as a policy to reduce and prevent hate and extremism, seven-in-10 adults nationally (70%) said they support such a program compared to only one-in-six adults (18%) who oppose it and 12 percent who are undecided.
For more information about Learning for Justice, please visit www.learningforjustice.org.