Jitu Brown has built a national civil rights organization called Journey for Justice, with chapters in 38 cities. He is a large and powerful man who speaks from personal experience and brings a message of determination and hope.

Jitu Brown is leading a national equity campaign based on a Quality of Life agenda that will be released with congressional members, union leaders, and others in Washington D.C. on September 22, 2022. This will be part of an Advocacy Day with hundreds of leaders from across the country supporting this platform.

Brown, a member of the board of the Network for Public Education, was recently profiled by The Hill, an influential publication in D.C. He spoke at the annual NPE conference in Philadelphia and challenged the audience to commit themselves to equity in education.

On Saturday, September 24, 2024 there will be a Quality of Life Festival held in D.C. with speakers and music, attended by thousands of people from across the country.

Most recently, Jitu and his team brought clean water to the people of Jackson, Mississippi, where the municipal water is unsafe.

The Hill wrote about him:

Speaking to The Hill from a Chicago office adorned with posters screaming “Equality or Else” and “Water Is a Human Right,” Brown talked about growing up in the Rosemoor neighborhood of Chicago’s Far South Side during the 1970s.

The son of a nurse and a steelworker, Brown was the beneficiary of the civil rights movement: He lived in a working-class, Black community and had educators who looked like him and a school that encouraged cultural awareness.

“I remember growing up as a child, feeling very warm, feeling protected, not being afraid to walk, catching the bus all over the city,” Brown said.

That didn’t mean there weren’t issues in his community. Brown’s neighborhood was straddled by two of the city’s most prominent rival gangs: the Gangster Disciples and the Vice Lords.

Brown said he could have easily become wrapped up in the gangs, but he had the support of his family and friends.

Jitu had his own personal struggles, but then joined a hip-hop musical group that was signed by a major label.

He left the music industry to become a community organizer with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization in Chicago.

Brown started KOCO’s youth development and youth leadership programs. As he worked with the students, schools began to take an interest. They wanted, in particular, Black men to bring their experience and knowledge into the classrooms. So Brown did.

And as he did, the inequity in the schools became quite clear.

“You’re working with these young people, but you’re noticing that at this school, there’s one computer in the entire class and there’s no air conditioning,” he recalled. “Then I’m also going to schools and other communities and I’m working with student councils. You walk in and the school is bright. The classrooms are small. They got world language. They have counselors. They have teacher aides in every class.”

Brown began to realize the discrepancies between the schools were systemic. KOCO started organizing more and more, working to stop the city from closing more than 20 schools serving predominantly Black and Brown students and conducting sit-ins at City Hall for more youth job opportunities.

The goal was — and remains — to create an equitable schooling system regardless of the students’ races, leading to the founding of the Journey for Justice Alliance in 2012.

The Alliance focuses on enacting a “sustainable community school village.”

Sustainable community schools are rooted in the principles that everybody in the school community should have input on what an engaging and relevant and rigorous curriculum looks like, schools should offer high-quality and culturally competent teaching, and wraparound supports should be available to each child.

Wraparound supports are a big focus for the Journey for Justice Alliance, Brown said.

Keep your eyes on Jitu Brown and Journey for Justice. They are on the ground and teaching people how to speak, get active, and advocate for equity.

Nothing less will do.