By Juliet Bost and Mia Machado
SAN FRANCISCO — During the SF District Attorney African American Employees Association’s (AAEA) Black History Month Celebration, DA Chesa Boudin emphasized the need for a “radical”—meaning “grasping things at the root”—approach to criminal justice, to meaningfully work toward “eradicating the shameful history of racism that lingers in every courtroom of this country.”
It isn’t enough for the DA’s office to remain “race-neutral,” as DA Boudin argues, but be “intentionally and explicitly … anti-racist” in its approach.
The live virtual event, celebrating a theme of “Black Is the Power That Lights the World,” featured performances by law student and poet Korin Jones and singer Dee Dee Simon, as well as youth leaders Ashlyn and Xavier Brown.
The AAEA awarded Dr. Angela Davis and Vice President Kamala Harris with Lifetime Achievement Awards, highlighting their roles as influential leaders in the Black community and their lifelong dedication to furthering racial justice.
The AAEA also awarded Visionary Awards to four SF locals: Geoffrea Morris, Tinisch Hollins, President of San Francisco Board of Supervisors Shamann Walton, and SF DA Chief Information Officer Herman Brown.
The Visionary Award commended recipients for their leadership in the Black community and dedication to racial equity in healthcare, housing, criminal justice, and public policy.
In providing opening remarks for the event and introducing keynote speaker Dr. Davis, DA Boudin emphasized his commitment as SF’s District Attorney to anti-racist practices in his criminal justice reform.
After recognizing the disproportionate harms of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic difficulty on the African American community, DA Boudin emphasized the need to “address head-on the legacy of discrimination” in all aspects of life, especially in the criminal justice system.
The criminal justice system is “a vehicle that has for far too long served to amplify and exacerbate further disparities upstream,” he remarked.
He also commemorated Dr. Davis, a foundational thinker and activist whose “intellectual contribution” has facilitated our understanding of “the evils of mass incarceration, [and] of the racism built into our criminal justice system.”
Before the AAEA distributed awards to recipients, Dr. Davis voiced her support for DA Boudin, whom she recognized as “attempting to transform this office into an institution that can make a difference with respect to the fight for racial equality and justice.
“Progressive people all over the country are looking toward Chesa for leadership,” Dr. Davis said, referring to his efforts to “curb mass incarceration and bring down some of the racist barriers to justice, such … as cash bail.”
In his closing remarks, DA Boudin recognized the importance of Black History Month, but pushed the need as an office to “lift up and support the African American community, internally and externally,” not just in February but “all day every day, all year every year.”
Mia Machado is a junior at UC Davis, currently majoring in Political Science-Public Service and minoring in Luso-Brazilian studies. She is originally from Berkeley, California. She is a team member on the Chesa Boudin Recall – Changing the Narrative Project.
Juliet Bost is a third year at UC Davis, majoring in Political Science – Public Service and minoring in Religious Studies. They are originally from San Mateo, California. They are a member on the Chesa Boudin Recall – Changing the Narrative Project.
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