Black History Month – A Time of Reflection, Celebration, and Reaffirmation

Black History Month – A Time of Reflection, Celebration, and Reaffirmation

February marks Black History Month, a history we should honor not only this month but every month, because Black history is inseparable from American history. At PILP, we reflect on our past efforts, recommit to our mission, and to center Black voices, communities, and needs in our work to advance racial and economic justice alongside low-income communities and communities of color.

PILP’s focus remains steadfast on attacking systems and policies that have unjustly denied low-income communities and communities of color in California government benefits, housing, and security. Black communities in California are disproportionately harmed by these systems. Despite constituting only 6% of the population, Black residents comprise 38% of the state’s unhoused population; those who are housed face heightened threats of eviction and are disproportionately evicted from their homes. Black opportunities to build wealth and home ownership rates are far behind whites; with the Black home ownership rate actually lower than it was in the 1960s.[1] Embedded racism and “unfettered” state control in public benefits policies have further exacerbated and disproportionately harmed Black families.[2] Black Americans are over-incarcerated, at five times the rate of white Americans[3],creating significant barriers to housing, employment, stability, and dignity.

A History of Deep Resistance and Strategic Advocacy:

From the forced arrival of Black people in North America to the present day, Black History is replete with stories of resistance and strategic advocacy for the betterment of the nation. African Americans have persistently resisted historic and ongoing oppression, including the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms, and police killings.[4] Figures like Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, who fought Jim Crow and segregation in the courts, and Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, a pioneer of intersectionality and critical race theory, exemplify the tireless efforts of Black scholars, advocates, organizers, lawyers, workers, and leaders in advancing justice. As a society, we owe a great debt to Black-led movements whose victories have led to significant legal advancements benefiting all marginalized populations. While celebrating these achievements, we acknowledge there is much more work to be done to achieve true racial equity for Black Americans.

PILP’s Work:

In the past year, PILP championed the rights of unhoused individuals, protected families in mobile home parks, and facilitated pathways for nonprofits to develop affordable housing and steward land for the public good. Our impact litigation set crucial legal standards in federal and state courts, including the California Supreme Court, which will play a pivotal role in shaping a racially inclusive and equitable California. And in Gracia v. San Bernardino, we applied Kimberlé Crenshaw’s principles to fight for equitable access to housing for all residents, especially those impacted by the criminal legal system. Per Staff Attorney Ugochi Anaebere-Nicholson, “it is important to remove administrative barriers on those who have paid their debt to society and seek to return home to live their lives as part of their community.”

Recommitment to Centering Black Voices and Communities:

At PILP, we reaffirm our commitment to honoring Black history as American history. We remain dedicated to empowering communities and advocating for racial and economic justice, and we resolve to attack deep-seated inequities faced today by Black communities. Let us stand in solidarity this month and every month, envisioning a future where justice prevails for all.




[4] Association for the Study of African American Life and History