Activist group recruiting children for launch of 'Youth Power Institute'
Education Justice Alliance's child activism project similar to "NC HEAT."
A group tied to left-leaning organizations within the Blueprint NC network is recruiting children for future activism.
The Education Justice Alliance (EJA) is made of parents, students and community-based organizations in Wake County working for a reduction in the number of public school students pushed off the academic track through unfair suspensions, harsh discipline policies, and academic failure,” the group’s website says. “EJA is a non-partisan grassroots group that participates in community organizing, leadership development and civic engagement efforts.”
EJA sent a newsletter out last month launching a youth social justice activism project called the “Youth Power Institute.”
YOUTH POWER INSTITUTE INFO SESSION
Education Justice Alliance invites you to join us for an info session on our youth work. We're launching the Youth Power Institute, and everyone with a passion for justice is welcome to attend. You can expect community, access to leadership development strategies, and political education. Come meet the amazing folx that are developing our Youth Power Institute and learn how we build community in order to spark impactful social change.
Another EJA newsletter targeted wanting participation from Wake County students in particular.
This is not the first time EJA has done youth recruitment for a K-12 version of 'defund the police’. Other EJA endeavors have included running Heroes Emerging Among Teens also referred to as “NC HEAT,” and affiliation with the “Youth Organizing Institute” (YOI).
NC HEAT began showing up in 2013 and 2014 mainly protesting discipline policies, the “school to prison pipeline,” and calling for the removal of School Resource Officers (SROs). The protests were on the theatrical side, with members of NC HEAT donning orange jumpsuits like those used in prisons.
Later, in 2016, Young radical YOI activists also spoke to the WCPSS board of education, claiming school policing is “racist” and demanding the removal of SROs.
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More to the Story: EJA
EJA claims on its website to have formed out of the “former YWCA of the Greater Triangle,” however, it is actually an early offshoot of the far-left Southern Vision Alliance (SVA).
SVA, co-founded by sitting Durham Council member Jillian Johnson, was formerly known as Action for Community in Raleigh or “ACRe.” SVA has been a hub for activism and the launch of protests by progressive and left-leaning groups in the state, including Black Lives Matter, and SVA is tied to bail funds for those arrested during protests.
Funding for SVA has come from a number of sources, notable the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the Soros-originated dark money group, Democracy Alliance. In 2020 alone, SVA received $100,000 from Z. Smith Reynolds for “operating support.”
Aside from EJA and NC HEAT, multiple other organizations got their start from SVA, including, Ignite NC, Education, NC Coalition for Education Justice (NCCEJ), Student Power, Youth Organizing Institute (YOI), and NC Queer Youth Power Coalition.
Leading EJA is Letha Muhammad, the current executive director of EJA.
Muhammad’s name became well-known following a WPCSS board meeting at which some of her remarks went viral.
In the clip below, Muhammed appeared to defend books that other parents say are inappropriate and sexually explicit. Apparently, an audience member called her a pervert to which she responded with a very audible "F*** You."
Muhammad’s predecessor and EJA board member is long-time activist Rukiya Dillahunt.
The profile for Dillahunt on the EJA website notes her “active” past and present membership in the N.C. Association of Educators, serving as “President of the Wake -North Carolina Association of Educators local for 3 years.”
The bio also cites Dillahunt’s activism as a member of Black Workers for Justice and the Fertile Ground as well as being “actively involved in the struggle against the School to Prison Pipeline.”
Rukiya Dillahunt and her husband, Ajamu, are both long-time activists involved with Black Workers for Justice:
“During one protest, veteran BWFJ member Rukiya Dillahunt was chided by a white participant for holding a sign saying “Stop the War on Black America.” The person felt it should say “and white Americans.”
“I put her in check,” said Dillahunt, “by laying out the high Black unemployment rates, mass incarceration, and the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ we face.”
– Labor Notes.org 9/23/13 by Ajamu Dillahunt
Under Dillahunt, EJA was one of the multiple activist organizations which filed a complaint against WCPSS over the “school to prison pipeline.” That complaint was the opening salvo that ultimately led to altering discipline policies in the district and the creation of the WCPSS Office of Equity Affairs.
Dillahunt’s husband was employed in the past by the NC Justice Center, which is also one of the groups listed in the complaint against WCPSS. The Dillahunts have been influencing the Wake County School Board for some time now and are also involved in the group “Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children” which lobbied unsuccessfully for the Wake School Board to drop zeroes from minority student grades because that action is ‘too punitive‘.
The NC Justice Center is the parent organization for Blueprint NC, which made national news in 2013 following a leaked memo revealing the mission of Blueprint NC and its partners to “eviscerate, mitigate, litigate, cogitate and agitate” Republican leaders in North Carolina.
While NC Justice Center was the parent of Blueprint NC, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation provided the money and continues to fund the NC Justice Center, Blueprint NC, SVA, and EJA, along with a host of others.
In 2021, Z. Smith Reynolds gave Blueprint NC operating funds of $300,000 and $50,000 over two years to the Southern Coalition for Social Justice for its “Education Justice Alliance project.”
Other EJA board members include Ivanna Gonzales, former Deputy Director of Policy & Alignment at Blueprint NC; Iliana Santillan-Carrillo, former People's Power Director at Poder NC Action and current Executive Director of El Pueblo; La-Mine Perkins, Assistant Director of Community Engagement at NC Child; Teia Evans, Associate Director at Carolina Common Enterprise; Lauren Fox, Senior Director of Policy at the Public School Forum of North Carolina; and M. Alex Evans, a staff attorney at Disability Rights North Carolina.
When EJA’s website was first launched, it was registered by another Blueprint NC member, the far-left El Pueblo’s Executive Director Angeline Echeverria.
Related reading: Foundations Destroying American Public Education: Youth Activism