WCRJ was founded in 2012 by a group of unemployed and formerly incarcerated Black workers. We aim to eliminate barriers to sustainable, living-wage employment for Black workers; to strengthen economic security for Black families and communities; and to advance a progressive, pro-worker agenda that will lead to inclusion and prosperity for all marginalized workers.
WCRJ seeks to improve the economic conditions and stability of Illinois’ Black communities by addressing issues of labor market discrimination and over-criminalization. Our work rests at the intersection of these two issues, which are inextricably linked and constitute root causes of many related problems including systemic poverty, mass incarceration, violence and poor health outcomes in Black communities.
Deangelo Bester, Executive Director
Yolanda Godwin, Operations Director
Antonio Lightfoot, Organizer
Nicole Watson, Organizer
Louisa Manske, Policy and Communications Coordinator
Sarah Wilson, Development Associate
The WCRJ employs a group of canvassers known as the Street Action Team (SAT). This team supports WCRJ by conducting strategic canvassing campaigns to engage Black workers and family members in WCRJ advocacy work, campaigns and Get Out the Vote efforts. The SAT is largely comprised of low-wage and formerly incarcerated Black workers.