No Longer Silenced: This Justice Site Helps Communities Tell Their Stories
By CHAR ADAMS
Chaumtoli Huq was working as a human rights lawyer in 2013 when she began looking for ways to share social justice information with the world — as she continued to learn about the issues herself.
“The initial goal was to create a platform where people who were interested broadly in social justice issues could come and get information,” Huq tells SUM. “How would I get information about social justice issues? And mainstream media weren’t really focused on it.”
That platform became Law at the Margins.
The project began as a simple blog, for which Huq would ask her friends to contribute articles about their social justice interests. By the time Huq joined the CUNY School of Law as an associate professor in 2018, the platform had grown into an innovative law and media nonprofit.
ICYMI: @Madinah7 new piece on prisons' deep medical crises is live. "Prison is a toxic environment within itself, but hundreds of American prisons are built on land that was otherwise worthless due to its environmental hazards." #movementmondayhttps://t.co/EJQs7uH3bP— Law@theMargins (@lawatmargins) January 20, 2020
Now, Law at the Margins features in-depth articles about everything from mass incarceration and healthcare to immigration and labor. The site also offers webinars and informational articles about current events.
But, Huq says, “we’re not a traditional journalism site.”
The organization’s pride and joy is what they call their “Community Based News Room,” where trained journalists work with community members to share their stories.
“We came up with the idea to create a news site that told the stories of underrepresented communities from their perspective,” says Eric Ortiz, the newsroom’s executive director. “In one case, there was a mother of someone who’s incarcerated. She wrote a piece, we edited it and we worked with her. Then we published it.”
Huq adds: “We wanted to give a platform to people so that they could have their voices heard.”
Huq and her team recently published a series highlighting homelessness in the nation, called “Right to a Home.” Articles in the series include subjects like youth and veterans who are homeless, decriminalizing homelessness, how people without homes live day-to-day, and efforts to end housing crises.
The organization’s very first series tackled immigration.
“It’s really important to have people who are experiencing the issue write about it and talk about it,” Huq says.