Introducing LCCR’s 2024 Calogero Champion of Justice Awardee: Ubuntu Village
Ubuntu Village logo.

With our Celebration for Children’s Rights coming up on March 21st, we’re excited to introduce our Pascal Calogero Champion of Justice awardee for 2024: Ubuntu Village.

“Ubuntu Village has long been a champion of youth justice,” says LCCR’s Executive Director Kristen Rome. “We are grateful to be part of the village and honored to serve alongside Ubuntu as they work to dismantle harmful practices in the juvenile legal system.”

Established in 2016, Ubuntu Village is the fruit of founder Ernest Johnson, a community organizer who, growing up in New Orleans, came to understand firsthand how the juvenile legal system negatively impacts families.

“Mr. Johnson’s leadership centers culture, values intergenerational wisdom, and uplifts community,” continues Ms. Rome.

Ubuntu is founded on the idea that we become our fullest selves through our investment in our communities, our families, and our children. They help the families of arrested children advocate for their rights and for the rights of their children by providing educational resources and helping families to navigate the juvenile legal system.

The team at Ubuntu also works tirelessly towards creating a world in which all children are empowered to pursue their goals and all families have the economic resources to support them. They tackle issues like juvenile justice and mass incarceration while working with the families most impacted.

“Partners like Ubuntu Village remind us that our children are a reflection of our values, and we must unify if we want to create a Louisiana where Black children and families are seen and valued,” says Ms. Rome.

Members of LCCR staff join Ubuntu Village for its annual holiday celebration.

In 2018, Ubuntu Village released its Parents Fighting for Youth Justicereport, which details the challenges and hurdles families face when interacting with the juvenile legal system and offers reform recommendations to improve the process for all. The report documents ongoing issues familiar to our staff and the families we work with, like a lack of long-term support for families and formerly incarcerated youth, a lack of respect for families interacting with the system, a lack of effective communication or functional information, and more.

In 2021, Ubuntu was a key ally in the passage of Act 123, which removed administrative fees against parents with children in the legal system. This includes fees associated with drug testing or electronic monitoring costs in the juvenile court system, both of which were particularly stressful for families that were already struggling.

In 2023, Ubuntu partnered with LCCR and other leaders in the youth justice space to put forth Unthinkable Imagination: A Creative Response to the Juvenile Justice Crisis. This art exhibition, hosted at the Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane Universtiy, showcased the experiences of system-involved youth through painting, sculpture, performance, and other mediums.

Ubuntu is also a founding member of the Youth Justice Advocates, a coalition of more than 30 local advocacy and organizing partners dedicated to reshaping the youth justice system into one that treats kids like kids, ends the criminalization of Black youth, and prioritizes healing instead of punishment. Today, Ubuntu serves on the YJA steering committee alongside LCCR and the St. Charles Center for Faith and Action.

“Ubuntu” is a South African word that means “I am because we are.” Ubuntu is a village that connects children and families to the resources they need and provides them the space they need to reflect and to grow. For its years of incredible work helping families advocate for themselves in New Orleans’ juvenile legal system, we are thrilled to present Ubuntu Village with this year’s Calogero Champion of Justice Award.

Join us as we honor Ubuntu Village at this year’s Celebration of Children’s Rights event. Click here to RSVP.

LCCR’s Champion of Justice Award is named to honor the legacy of the late Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal Calogero Jr., a staunch advocate for children’s rights who helped usher in groundbreaking juvenile justice reforms in the early 2000s. Honorees are nominated by LCCR’s staff and selected by a committee of LCCR staff and board members. 

Posted by Cadence Neenanon March 6, 2024and categorized as Awards, Client Story, Events, Featured, News, Reports, Uncategorized