Social Justice Matters (SJM) is a local grassroots non-profit organization. Our members are committed to active inquiry into matters of race in our society, and to working towards an equitable community. SJM serves as a resource for community concerns, and facilitates truthful and meaningful discussions and action about race and related topics.
Social Justice Matters is committed to exploring the values and opportunities arising from our diverse communities, and to working together to foster equity and challenge racism, to achieve greater social justice.
What first brought us together
SJM was formed in 2009, when an offensive and potentially inflammatory flyer was distributed on the lawns and driveways of residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood. An effort was made to bring this community together to ensure that this ugly seed would not have fertile soil in which to grow.
At a meeting convened by the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium, and led by a representative from the U.S. Justice Department, a group of approximately 20 members of the SPF community engaged in small-group discussions about our individual backgrounds and personal feelings about race. Following a brief discussion of the entire group, it was decided that the discussion should continue.
Throughout 2010, a core group met and planned the future of the committee, The committee decided to be organized as Social Justice Matters. The Social Justice Matters Steering Committee received training by The Beyond Diversity Resource Center (BDRC) to equip them with techniques for facilitating discussions about race.
SJM continued to meet regularly between 2011 and 2015, as a small and committed group of local residents.
Our Current Focus
Events in the national news in the summer of 2014, including the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York – so close to home--caused many of us, SJM members, and others, to commit to exploring the roles race plays in America, with the goal of working together towards a more equitable and inclusive society.
In January 2015 The Scotch Plains Public Library and the Fanwood Memorial Library co-hosted a series of films and programming, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,.” created by the National Endowment for the Humanities to encourage public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America”. Recognizing the need to bring community discussion to bear upon current realities, librarians consulted with Dr. Linda Caldwell Epps and the leadership of Social Justice Matters, Inc. to develop additional programming. The public discussions that followed provided the impetus for Social Justice Matters to expand its reach into the community.
Now, with a growing and engaged membership, Social Justice Matters:
- Meets monthly
- Presents public programs
- Maintains an active role in community affairs
- Partners with other organizations to promote opportunities for local youth and under-served populations
SJM serves as funding sponsor of the annual Scotch Plains - Fanwood Martin Luther King Day of Service. SJM has also sponsored or co-sponsored an event at each of those celebrations.
Now, more than ever, SJM is in a position to strike a chord in our community. Topics we have discussed since our founding are front and center on our national agenda and on the radar of our local officials, neighbors, friends and families. Join us to advocate for equity and justice.