A Soundtrack for Social Justice, as Heard at Liberty Hill’s Upton Sinclair Dinner

The All of Me Tour

At the 33rd annual Upton Sinclair Dinner, Liberty Hill Foundation celebrated the new generation taking up the struggle for social justice.  As young leaders backed by Liberty Hill are pushing for restorative justice in schools, fighting for a cleaner environment and stopping families from being split apart by deportation, musicians from all genres are proving that protest music is alive and well.  Here you will find the Upton Sinclair Dinner soundtrack, which includes social justice songs from local artists, national chart-toppers and everyone in between.

While some of these songs reference political music from the ’60s and ’70s, others are rooted firmly in the sounds of today.  There are topical responses to injustices in Ferguson, Los Angeles and elsewhere, as well as songs that meditate on the broader concepts of solidarity and movement building.  In Oscar winner John Legend’s case, the fight for justice goes beyond music.  The singer campaigned to pass Proposition 47 in California, and recently launched a new campaign called “Free America,” which will target mass incarceration nationwide.

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Liberty Hill to Shine a Spotlight on Racial Justice at Upton Sinclair Dinner


If you haven’t yet purchased your ticket or sponsorship for Liberty Hill’s April 21 Upton Sinclair Dinner, please hurry and get a seat at the table. This year, your presence is especially important: We need you now more than ever as we push forward with innovative initiatives to deal with some of today’s burning issues: police violence, crushing conditions for low-wage workers and a broken immigration system.


Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Member, Mark Ridley-Thomas

Liberty Hill has just confirmed some special guests who join our program with thoughts and news about the ongoing struggle for racial justice in America. We’ll hear from longtime Liberty Hill supporter and Civil Rights leader Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who’ll check in from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. He’ll introduce two young Los Angeles organizers, who’ll share stories from L.A.’s sidewalks, schoolyards and homes where over-policing and mass deportation of people of color are tearing families apart.

That’s right— Liberty Hill is doubling down for racial justice at the Upton Sinclair Dinner this year. As a reflection of our 40-year commitment to racial justice in all our campaigns and programs, we are not only honoring Dr. Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., one of the most eloquent intellectual standard-bearers leading the national discussion today, but we also are marking the ongoing work of the Civil Rights movement during this year of significant historic anniversaries.

A lot has changed in 50 years and in 100 years, and in 150 years and more. But there’s much more to be done.

Be with us as a new generation steps forward and we all continue, arm in arm, to dismantle racism and win equality for all.



A Big Week for L.A. Environment!

By Michele Prichard

CUGU pic (2)

Members of Clean Up Green Up coalition before hearing at L.A. City Hall June 2013.

If you care about creating a cleaner, greener L.A. and preparing for the impacts of climate change, you’ll want to take a look at two new initiatives that environmentalists have promoted to have a big impact on the future of our city.

This week, Mayor Eric Garcetti released his groundbreaking “Sustainability pLAn,” a downloadable 105-page document that describes strategies for “protecting the environment as part of a comprehensive framework of sustainability — one that fully embraces a healthy economy and a commitment to social equity.”

Liberty Hill, a leader in L.A.’s environmental justice movement for 20 years, is pleased to note that elements of this plan originated with the Clean Up Green Up policy proposal developed by a coalition of grassroots organizations long supported by Liberty Hill.

Clean Up Green Up’s environmental justice vision has not only local relevance but also the potential to be a national model for toxic hotspot communities affected by concentrated urban pollution sources.

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Liberty Hill to Honor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. with the Upton Sinclair Award

Liberty Hill Foundation‘s annual Upton Sinclair Dinner is less than a month away.  Taking place on April 21, the event honors Angelenos whose work in social justice has left such an indelible mark on those it aims to help that it deserves honoring and recognition.

Liberty Hill presents the Upton Sinclair Award to those who, like the muckraking journalist Sinclair, combine their talents and beliefs to advance social justice.

Dr. Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.

The Upton Sinclair Award honors those whose efforts illustrate a persistent commitment to social justice and equality. Liberty Hill is proud to present this year’s award to Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, for his work preparing a new generation of leaders to effectively serve and positively impact communities both locally and internationally. His commitment to social justice is evident in his leadership of the school and its programs, positioning UCLA Luskin’s teaching and research to make significant impacts on issues of shared concern with Liberty Hill.

Gilliam was appointed Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in September 2008. He is a longtime UCLA professor of public policy and political science. His research focuses on strategic communications, public policy, electoral politics, and racial and ethnic politics.

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Frontlines to Headlines March 2015




As the Skid Row community reacts to the shooting of an unarmed Black man, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) has responded by demonstrating outside the LAPD headquarters, demanding an independent investigation into the killing, and calling for more mental health professionals in the neighborhood. See the L.A. Times, the Huffington Post, LAist, KABC Radio AM 790, Press TV, and Yahoo News for coverage. Neon Tommy’s report mentions Youth Justice Coalition’s (YJC) participation in demonstrations as well. For more background, see the Daily Beast’s recent article on the history of Skid Row. The piece quotes LA CAN organizer Steve Diaz on how the Safer Cities Initiative has led to a “police occupation” of the neighborhood.

YJC is co-sponsoring SB124, a bill that seeks to limit the use of solitary confinement in juvenile detention centers. The Chronicle of Social Change and Witness L.A. have the story.

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Liberty Hill to Honor Michele Prichard with Founders Award

Liberty Hill Foundation‘s annual Upton Sinclair Dinner is just a little over a month away.  Taking place on April 21, the event honors Angelenos whose work in social justice has left such an indelible mark on those it aims to help that it deserves honoring and recognition.

Liberty Hill presents its annual Founders Award to individuals whose philosophy and philanthropy embody the spirit of “Change. Not Charity.”

Michele Prichard

The Founders Award honors those whose philanthropic pursuits exemplify the motto of our mission. We are pleased to present this distinction to our own Michele Prichard. Michele’s role in broadening the scope of the foundation world and key funders to support social justice issues over the last 25 years has resulted in millions of dollars in resources for community organizing and advocacy in Los Angeles.

Michele is the Director of Common Agenda at the Liberty Hill Foundation. Today, Liberty Hill’s reputation as one of the country’s most innovative public foundations can be attributed significantly to her early and ongoing leadership.

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Liberty Hill Announces the New Rapid Response Fund for Racial Justice










“Power to the people no delay … to make everybody see … in order to fight the powers that be.”  Those lyrics from Public Enemy’s protest anthem “Fight the Power” had it right.  With the fight for racial justice currently at a fever pitch, Liberty Hill Foundation recognized a real need for organizations to have access to immediate funds on the ground for those fighting on the frontlines.

When the people need to fight, they’re looking for a no-red-tape approach and Liberty Hill has stepped up with the newly announced Rapid Response Fund for Racial Justice.  From Ferguson, to New York, to right in our own backyard here in Los Angeles, we understand that a racial justice movement is galvanizing and that there is a need that just wasn’t being met.  Fighting for racial justice doesn’t always fit into a six month plan. Sometimes something needs to happen in an instant and we are providing the means to help do so.

To donate to the Rapid Response Fund for Racial Justice go here.


Liberty Hill Speaks With Black Lives Matter co-Founder About Racial Justice Today and More

By Crystal Shaw


Black Lives Matter co-founder and Dignity and Power Now founder and Executive Director, Patrisse Cullors-Brignac

During Liberty Hill Foundation’s annual Uplifting Change luncheon last month, Black Lives Matter co-founder and Dignity and Power Now founder and Executive Director, Patrisse Cullors-Brignac spoke to attendees about the orgins of the Black Lives Matter movement and her own path, which lead her to fierce organizing around racial justice.

Her motivation to fight for civil and racial justice and equality are deeply rooted in her childhood experiences. Liberty Hill understands that activism and organizing, especially around equality and racial justice, in this day and age has been fueled by a powerful youth leadership movement, so we spoke with Patrisse about how her own youth experiences have led her to becoming a prominent voice in fighting for justice on the streets of Los Angeles and Ferguson and empowering youth at every turn.

Liberty Hill: Why was important to participate in Uplifting Change this year?

Patrisse: I think it’s really important that Liberty Hill is bringing together Black philanthropists to think about this current moment, this Black Lives Matter movement. I think being here today was moving, was inspiring and I truly believe Black folks, who have historically, and now are putting dollars toward Black movements. We saw it in the 60’s and 70’s, we’re seeing it now today and I think that Black Lives Matter has created an opportunity and an opening for Black people to stand in solidarity with this movement.

Liberty Hill: What was the one moment for you, that you knew you had to join the fight for racial justice?

Patrisse: When Treyvon Marton was murdered I was 26 and when the acquittal happened I was 27, and I just remember feeling a significant amount of rage because it wasn’t just about Treyvon Martin, it was about Oscar Grant, it was about being 9 years old when the uprisings happened with Rodney King and he was beaten right around the corner from my own neighborhood. It was about growing up with seeing the level of violence at the hands of the police and acted upon Black communities and feeling like this can’t be the way we are living our lives, there has to be more, there has to be a way in which we can interject into this narrative. And because I’m an organizer I think that has been the most intuitive way to combat state violence and also to “visiblize” the ways in which state violence impacts Black people’s lives every single day.

Liberty Hill: Do you think everything happening when you were a youth – do you think that fact that that happened has empowered you now? Do you think that what you saw when you were young has ignited the fire?

Patrisse: Definitely, definitely. Part of my own story is that my brother was almost killed by the sheriff’s department. He was brutally beaten by the sheriffs when he was 19 years old in the county jails. It’s why I started the organization that I founded here in LA, which is called Dignity and Power Now I’m the Executive Director of it, and our focus has been to fight for the civilian oversight of the sheriff’s department and we’ve won, and that has everything to do with my story, has everything to do with what I witnessed as a 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, so I think we’re in a generation where young Black people are seeing terrible acts of violence and any human is going to respond at their breaking point. And I think this is our country’s breaking point.

Liberty Hill: You closed the Uplifting Change program with a call-and-response quote  from Assata Shakur. Why that quote?

Patrisse: I first heard that quote probably seven years ago and it rung so true and deep for me. Feeling like it is our duty to fight for this, to fight for our freedom and our children and our children’s freedom. And that it’s not just our duty to fight for it, but it’s our duty to win. So figuring out the ways we can win, the victories that we can win and I love the idea of “we have to love and support each other” right? We could talk about policy all day but if we’re not loving each other while we’re doing this work, this work it not going to move very far. We have to understand and be in a place where we are actually living in this movement the way we want to see the world. And so that quote, I literally close every meeting, every march, and every rally with it. And when I brought it into Ferguson it struck a chord with the young women in particular and so they’ve yelled it and chanted it throughout the streets, in front of Ferguson PD and now it’s in almost every video that I’ve done. It’s going to be my thing that everybody knows me for.

It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We most love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.Assata Shakur

Read more on Liberty Hill’s support of youth leadership.


Uplifting Change 2015 Shines a Light on the Importance of Youth Activism

by Crystal Shaw


Advancement Project Co-Director, Judith Browne Dianis

LOS ANGELES– February 26, 2015 – Liberty Hill Foundation’s annual Uplifting Change Luncheon took place at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in Downtown L.A. Punctuated by the words from keynote speaker, Co-Director of the Advancement Project Judith Browne Dianis, the event, by many accounts, was possibly the most inspiring yet.

The program opened with a speech from Liberty Hill president and CEO, Shane Goldsmith Murphy, who expressed how deeply personal the cause of fighting for racial justice was to her – that it was actually in her bloodline. She shared the story of how her father used activism to fight for civil rights in the 60’s and is one of her great motivations for why she continues the fight for equality and justice today.


Black Lives Matter co-Founder, Patrisse Cullors-Brignac

Before Judith Browne Dianis addressed the room, Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Patrisse Cullors-Brignac spoke brilliantly about the origins of the movement and what motivated her to start it. Reaching all they way back to her youth, she lamented on how the treatment of Blacks that she’s seen starting with Rodney King when she was just 9 sparked a fire within her to organize. But there was one particular moment that stands out in life that has remained the inspiration for her activism.

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Youth Leadership Series: Undocuqueer Youth Stand Up

By Joe Rihn


From Immigrant Youth Coalition’s (IYC) inception, co-founder Jonathan Perez knew his organization needed to be different from other groups providing immigration resources.  Most of IYC’s leaders are undocumented and queer, or undocuqueer, and that perspective informs IYC’s approach to activism.   Jonathan says IYC made a conscious decision to move away from organizing around the Dream Act, and to focus instead on ending “the criminalization of undocumented and queer people of color.”  Through bold protests and powerful organizing tactics, young IYC members have shown their dedication to stopping deportation.  According to Jonathan “They’re willing to risk their deportation in order to change the system.”

Jonathan came to the United States from Columbia at the age of four.  While his father was able to enter the country legally, the rest of the family, including four older siblings, had to apply for political asylum; a request that is still processing today.  “Our paths were a lot different than my dad’s,” he says, “At a young age I started to see how the system worked.”

Being undocumented caused a major turning point in Jonathan’s life when he learned that his older brother’s immigration status made it impossible to attend college.  When Jonathan realized he would face the same roadblock he “gave up,” nearly dropping out of high school.

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