Denise Wager | December 8, 2018
Carmen Perez’s activist roots were planted as a child growing up in Oxnard, Calif. Her older brother went to prison, and has been in and out of the criminal justice system for 30 years. She witnessed racial profiling of another brother by the police. Her Latino neighborhood in the coastal farming community west of Los Angeles was often plagued with violence and anger.
But it was the death of her 19-year-old sister in a car accident that led Perez to dedicate her life to initiatives that would transform young people, and to her calling for being a champion for justice.
On November 28, Perez delivered the Dean’s Lecture on Race, Law, and Society at Notre Dame Law School. “You are all going to be the architects, the shepherds, the champions that reimagine and redefine what justice really means in this country,” she told law students.
Perez has spent 20 years advocating for civil rights issues, including gender equity, violence prevention, racial healing, community policing, and opposition to mass incarceration.
Since 2010, she has served as executive director of The Gathering for Justice, a nonprofit founded by legendary artist and activist Harry Belafonte. In that role, she promotes peace through civil and human rights, builds alternatives to mass incarceration and violence, and provides commentary and guidance for state and federal policy.
Perez is also the founder of Justice League CA and a co-founder of Justice League NYC, two state-based task forces for advancing juvenile and criminal justice reform. In addition, she is a national co-chair for Women’s March on Washington.
Read more here.