SPLC statement on supporting Black journalists and dismantling systemic racism

white logo saying SPLC and Student Press Law Center on a bright blue background

The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
– Ida B. Wells, The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader

Black Lives Matter. 

The stories of Black lives matter. 

The telling of those stories and objective reporting of those truths matter. 

The Student Press Law Center stands by the efforts of Black Lives Matter, the Movement for Black Lives and people throughout this country committed to dismantling systemic racism in all its forms.

As an organization focused on protecting, supporting and defending the First Amendment rights of student journalists, we not only condemn the structural barriers impeding Black students as they seek to report their truths and serve as journalists in their school communities and beyond, but we also strongly commit to doing our part to dismantle those barriers. Chilling the speech of Black student journalists sets them up for a lifetime of believing that their voices don’t matter and that their role as journalists is not important. They do and it is. 

Journalism is an enabling force in maintaining a free and open civil society and robust democracy. Representation matters and the voices and experience of Black journalists matter as they help to shape robust fact-based reporting. 

The Student Press Law Center recognizes that we can and must do better as an organization. We acknowledge that this is not a short-term issue and will require ongoing work on our part. Being a part of change means taking actionable steps. Here is what we are doing to contribute to the structural reform that needs to take place on many levels. 

  • We pledge to increase the number of people of color on our Board of Directors;
  • We pledge to expand our strategies related to how we can best serve student journalists in schools in Black communities; 
  • We pledge to expand outreach and partnerships with HBCUs and NABJ to support their journalism students and students interested in media law;
  • We pledge to seek partnerships to research and document the ways in which structural racism prevents Black students from accessing journalism education and to propose concrete actions for change;
  • We pledge to hold ourselves accountable, review our actions to achieve these goals, and report publicly on our progress in six months and regularly thereafter.

Black lives matter. Black journalists matter. The Student Press Law Center stands in solidarity with all those who demand an end to systemic racism and justice for all.

Jane Eisner, 
Board Chair

Hadar Harris, 
Executive Director