As we enter Black History Month this year, we are energized to recommit to learning from the past while highlighting the work that Black leaders are continuing today in the fight for freedom, justice and equity.

Our mission at is to bring an end to mass incarceration, to eliminate the racial disparities that exist within every aspect of the criminal justice system, while building true opportunities for people and families harmed by these systems and to build a new, humane and sustainable immigration system that treats people here today and those coming tomorrow with dignity and respect, starting with a pathway to citizenship.

We are excited that the I Stand With Immigrants Initiative will be using the month to begin the Stories of Blackness Project. In addition to honoring the history, contributions, and achievements of Black people in this country, we want to continue responding to the call to action to show up for Black people. This project will address the popular statement “we’re all immigrants,” discuss what that statement means for Black immigrants and Black people whose ancestors were brought here by force and enslaved, and will provide a space for Black people to talk about their lives and collective history in this country. This will include how anti-Blackness colors their experiences, and the ways that Black immigrants and Black people descended from American chattel slavery connect, despite coming from different cultures and heritages.

Putting Black history into the context of this work means being clear that the modern system of mass incarceration emerged from prior structures of anti-Black racism, including the enslavement of twelve generations of Black people or nearly a century of Jim Crow apartheid that thrived until mere decades ago. The discrimination and racial disparities that exist within every aspect and jurisdiction of these systems descends from these prior systems. The last year has displayed more horrifying examples of how our immigration system—reliant on detention, deportation and deterrence-first approaches—disproportionately harms Black immigrants and asylum seekers.

There continues to be a deeply wrong and reactionary effort to frame the incredible Black-led uprisings against anti-Black police violence in 2020 as misguided. This month is another opportunity to make clear these uprisings were a continuation of a long history of freedom fighting and is an integral part in building an America that values the lives of Black people.

We are excited to celebrate the incredible leadership of Black people and leaders throughout history and today, focusing on the fight against mass incarceration and to treating all people with dignity and respect. America cannot become the country it should and must be—a free, just and true multi-racial democracy—until we achieve this.