By: Angela Bronner Helm
Tech giant Google announced last Friday that its philanthropic arm would be donating $1 million to Bryan Stevenson’s Alabama-based non-profit, Equal Justice Initiative.
The Harvard-educated Stevenson is a lawyer who has for decades fought the good fight—winning major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent prisoners on death row, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults in a deeply flawed American criminal justice system.
Stevenson’s organization, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), has also created the nation’s first lynching memorial and marked lynching sites throughout the South.
Justin Steele, a principal with Google.org and the Bay Area and racial justice giving lead told USA Today, “I think what’s exciting about what EJI is doing is that at a national level it is really trying to tell the untold history around race in this country and help people develop a deeper understanding for the narrative around race and how we have gotten to where we are.”
Google.org made the announcement during a Black History Month celebration at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters where Stevenson gave a speech on how the Google grant will help further his work.
USA Today reported that the racial justice grants were born out of a growing consensus inside Google that it must respond to the police slayings of African Americans and the fatal shooting of nine black citizens inside a Charleston, S.C., church last summer.
In November, Google.org made its first racial justice grants, giving $2.35 million to community organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Last week, Google.org made four more grants, totaling $3 million.
In line with the activist approach of organizing locally and thinking globally, the Equal Justice Initiative grant was the only grant gifted to a national non-profit—all other money was given to local organizations in the Bay Area working to eliminate racial disparities in education.