LOS ANGELES — Social justice advocate Susan Burton remembers back in 1998 when she founded A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project (ANWOL).
“We had a whisper of a chance to succeed,” she recalled. “Through ANWOL, so much pain and suffering have been transformed into resilience, determination and hope for so many. A lot has happened since the beginning.”
ANWOL, based in South Los Angeles, is a beacon of hope for the community of formerly incarcerated women. The nonprofit provides housing and support to benefit the women for successful community re-entry, family reunification and individual healing. ANWOL also works to restore the civil rights of formerly incarcerated people and empowering, organizing and mobilizing advocates for social change, civic engagement and personal transformation.
In celebration of the accomplishments of Burton and ANWOL and its supporters, local and national heroes in the struggle for justice were honored at its 19th annual Gala and Awards Event held at the LA Hotel downtown Dec. 8. The mistresses of ceremonies were Val Zavala, vice president of News and Public Affairs at KCET, and Margaret Prescod, host of Sojourner Truth, a public affairs program on Pacifica Radio stations KPFK 90.7 FM in Southern California, and several affiliate stations across the country.
“We are successful because of like-minded people who relentlessly fight for change,” Burton said.
This year’s honorees were state Sen. Holly J. Mitchell (Community Champion Award), civil rights attorney Benjamin L. Crump, (Industry Impact Award), Impact Justice (Movement Builder Award), and A New Way of Life’s Legal Department (Flozelle Woodmore Memorial Award). Each of the 2017 recipients understand and support ANWOL’s mission to restore the civil rights of formerly incarcerated people and to empower, organize and mobilize formerly incarcerated people as advocates for social change and personal transformation.
“[Black and brown people] deserve equal justice under the law, especially when I think about how Trayvon Martin, a black young man walking home with a bag of candy and a can of iced tea became the number one national news headline in 2012,” Crump said. “How could the case of Michael Brown with his hands up in Ferguson, Missouri, get shot and killed in broad daylight — an 18-year-old kid? His body laid in the street for more than four hours.”
Crump has represented the families of Martin and Brown and others like them.
“We must stand for our community, to speak up for our community and fight for our community. If we don’t, who will? That’s why we stand with Susan Burton and A New Way of Life,” he added.