We want to give an update on all of the tireless work that our members and supporters gave during our work in Springfield for this most recently completed legislative session.

The SAFER Communities Act (HB 3215)

Since The SAFER Communities Act was introduced last year, WCRJ has:

  • Held 62 Digital Action Fridays and 10 Advocacy Phone Banks

  • Mobilized 137,000 emails to legislators

  • Placed 1,140 Phone Calls to legislators

  • Held 4 Legislator of Policy Briefings

  • Met one-on-one with 83 Legislators

  • Held 5 Springfield Advocacy Days for our membership

  • Secured 20 legislative sponsors and 32 endorsing organizations

As a result of our hard work, HB 3215 was adopted in the Judiciary Committee in early April 2022, which made it eligible to be called to the House floor for a vote.

Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming number of bills that were under consideration, The SAFER Communities Act was not called for a vote in the House during this legislative session.

We are currently working with our Policy Steering Committee, the FIP Council, and our partner organizations to come up with next steps, and in the coming months, WCRJ will continue to leverage our base to build support for SAFER in the House and Senate Chambers, in order to pass HB 3215 during veto session later this year and to ensure that it is funded in a supplementary budget for 2023. Victory is still at hand!

Earned Income Credit expansion:

We Won! The Illinois General Assembly passed a budget that included expanding the earned income credit to nearly one million more people that would have otherwise been ineligible. This major accomplishment was a direct result of our work with Economic Security for Illinois, on behalf of the Coalition to Make EIC Work.

WCRJ leaders and members held meetings, spoke with community members, made phone calls to elected officials, and advocated through social media, to make the expansion of the earned income credit a reality in Illinois. It was critical that we engaged through every measure available to us, because so many people were in need of support throughout the state.

The EIC offers tax relief to most workers earning less than $56,000 per year and the potential to earn up to $1,200 (currently) in a refund check. This is money that regular folks need to make ends meet, and helps people that need it most in a tough economy as prices have risen dramatically in recent years.

Moving forward, we will continue working with Economic Security Illinois, along with other organizations across the state, to help families in our communities get the resources they need to not just survive, but to thrive.


Ten years ago on February 1st - at the outset of Black History Month in 2012 - a group of formerly incarcerated Black workers officially launched the Workers Center for Racial Justice in Chicago.

These founding members were united in particular by the dearth of employment opportunities they faced due to their records. Like many others in their communities, they had been forced into the informal economy due to years of community disinvestment and criminalization, as well as discrimination towards Black workers.

They perceived a pressing need for an organization specifically devoted to addressing issues faced by Black workers. They founded WCRJ with a mission to pursue Black Liberation through the "4Ps" - political education, protest, policy advocacy, and politics*, with a focus on those challenges that originate at the intersection of over-criminalization and exclusion from economic opportunity.

How you can support WCRJ in our 10th Year!

In keeping with 501c3 compliance, the "Political" aspect of WCRJ's strategy is pursued through our sister 501c4 organization, the Center for Racial and Gender Equity (CRGE).

In the 10 years since WCRJ was founded, we have built a powerful base of grassroots Black leaders who have devoted their time and resources to making Black History through collective action. They have conceptualized and advanced transformational policies; taken to the streets to protest and disrupt state-sanctioned police violence against Black people and communities; and driven record-breaking Black voter turnout in local, state and national elections.

They have changed the narrative about Black workers, educating communities and policymakers about the true roots of community violence: concentrated poverty and disinvestment, mass incarceration, segregation, discrimination, and lack of economic opportunity.

All throughout 2022, we will be celebrating a decade of progress, and leveraging this milestone to build resources and support for our next 10 years of work. We will be asking each of our supporters to contribute to this effort: by hosting a birthday fundraiser to benefit WCRJ, becoming a 10th anniversary sponsor, attending WCRJ membership meetings and events, and helping to gather petition signatures.

We'll also be asking you to donate to our 10th anniversary campaign with a gift of $100 or more, or a monthly Sustainer gift of $10/month in honor of our 10 years.

For questions about how you can support our 10th Anniversary Campaign, please contact Sarah Wilson, Development Director at sarah@center4racialjustice.org.

We look forward to celebrating with you this year!

In solidarity and struggle,

DeAngelo Bester

Executive Director


Updated: Feb 9

On Friday, November 19th, the United States House of Representatives passed a sweeping social safety and climate change spending bill, as part of President Biden’s agenda to broaden and improve America’s social safety net.

The Build Back Better bill is being hailed as the largest reform of social safety, education and health care in decades, and comes at the conclusion of bitter battles, both in Congressional chambers, and in our communities.

Workers Center for Racial Justice worked with our partner organizations across the country, including Community Change Action, to mobilize everyday voters to call their elected representatives urging them to vote for the Build Back Better agenda. Our members and supporters urged elected officials in Congress to provide robust funding for items such as expanding the Child Tax Credit, as well as an expansion of access to affordable health care for working families.

“This represents the largest investment in low-income and working class people in the history of this country”, said DeAngelo Bester, WCRJ Executive Director. “We are very excited to be a part of the work to get this bill passed out of the House, but the work is not done and there is still more to do in the Senate to get the bill to President Biden’s desk to be signed”.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it can pass with a simple majority using budget reconciliation, but still faces some obstacles and opposition in getting enough votes to push the bill through. We will continue to engage with our community members and partner organizations to make sure this groundbreaking bill becomes law of the land.