Four hundred and one years after Black people were brought to the shores of this country as enslaved property, Black people are still forced to confront oppressive barriers in the pursuit of happiness and freedom. Their fight for equality is still plagued by hurdles such as systemic racism, institutionalized oppression, police brutality, and the list goes on…In 2020, we witnessed the brutal murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and countless others. These murders gave birth to a revolution - a revolution which gave birth to the Young Professionals for Justice (“YPJ”), a coalition of young New Jersey-based activists who felt a sense of urgency to do more.
Spearheaded by Candice Iheme, who is currently a third year Rutgers Law student, the Young Professionals for Justice was created in the Summer of 2020 and has since held and co-sponsored several rallies, launched social media campaigns, and helped organize community events aimed at educating others. The idea is that if we help educate our peers regarding what is taking place in the social and political spectrum, it will inspire others to get involved.
To date, YPJ has been featured in several news outlets and has a strategic partnership with the People’s Organization for Progress. The most recent project for YPJ is an attempt to disrupt the school to prison pipeline in Newark, New Jersey where Rutgers Law is located. YPJ created a virtual program for students at Westside High School which will inspire the students to seek higher education, teach them about their Constitutional rights, educate them on financial aid basics, and help prepare them for college. YPJ was bestowed with a $5,000 grant from the Victoria Foundation for the project. The money will be disseminated as scholarships to Newark high school students who apply.
In addition, YPJ hoped to host a natural haircare expo for Westside students, but it was unfortunately canceled because of the pandemic. However, Miss Jessies, a natural haircare brand, donated over 500 products to Westside for its student store, which provides free essential items to its students.