Human rights struggles and the enduring ‘Journey to Justice’

March 24, 2021

Visitor at the Journey to Justice exhibition, Resource for London, Islington (summer 2019) looking at photo of policemen leading a group of school children into jail on May 4, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama ©AP/Shutterstock: inset photo of founder Carrie Supple

Tania Aubeelack speaks to Carrie Supple, founder of national education charity based in Muswell Hill

Journey to Justice is a national human rights education charity that I am proud to be involved in as a young volunteer and trustee.

It represents my way of carrying on the struggle for freedom and justice that so many ‘ordinary people’ gave up their lives for in order for us to have many of the rights we enjoy today. This includes voting rights won by the women’s rights movement and US civil rights movement as well as the right to have a weekend at the end of a long week of work won by the labour and trade union movement.

I spoke to Journey to Justice founder and director, Carrie Supple to find out more about her personal journey to get the charity where it is today.
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Tania: Can you tell us when and how Journey to Justice started? 

Carrie: It began in 2012 when I visited the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Arkansas, USA and heard recordings of African American parents who chose to send their children to a formerly all-white school there in 1957. I was so moved by their extraordinary courage, how they risked their homes, jobs and lives in doing so. I wanted to tell those and other stories to people the UK. There was tremendous support for the idea and in October 2013 Journey to Justice was born, created by people who believe in the power of ‘ordinary people’ to change the world.

Tania: Why did you decide to present your work in the format of an exhibition? 

Carrie: We created a touring exhibition so the stories we tell could be accessed by people wherever they live rather than establishing a museum in a fixed place which would only have been seen by those who happened to be in that town or could afford to travel there. Symbolically, the mobility of the exhibition is appropriate to the way the civil rights movement was present throughout the USA.

“This is an important project at a time when it is sorely needed to let our young people learn about past injustices. Stories like the Bristol Bus Boycott campaign and the civil rights struggle help to nurture understanding and tolerance against hate and violence,” Journey to Justice patron,
Paul Stephenson OBE

Tania: What are the links between the US civil rights movement and the UK’s own long and exhaustive history of anti-racism and class struggle? 

Carrie: The connection between US and UK history has always been strong and relevant, and even more so now.

The US civil rights movement remains of universal significance on every continent, going beyond place and time, and the issue of racism. It helped inspire peace, gay and women’s liberation movements and had a profound effect in the UK on individuals, organisations, government and culture. It was linked to independence struggles in 35 countries.

Wherever it travels, our project makes links with the tradition of protest and challenging injustice in the UK.

Displays from Journey to Justice’s travelling exhibition

Tania: Why do you think Journey to Justice’s approach to human rights and activism is unique and profound? 

Carrie: Our combination of history, the arts and social change is unique. We make a dynamic connection between the seldom told histories of ‘everyday’ people in the past, their expression through the arts and action for justice now. Seeing how and why change has been made by ‘people like us’ can ignite the flame of belief that it is again possible.

Tania: How has the US civil rights movement contributed to your new project, focusing on Economic (In)justice? 

Carrie: Martin Luther King Jr campaigned against poverty and war as much as he did against racism which are of course all connected.

Inequality and the gap between rich and poor is at the heart of so many issues here in the UK. Coronavirus has intensified our stark social and economic inequalities, including the systemic racism highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Our Economic (In)justice project is gathering stories of ‘ordinary’ people taking action, such as a campaign calling for truly affordable housing, saving a rural bus service, or campaigns for decent pay and conditions in order to galvanise sustained action for economic and social justice.

Tania: What role have young people played in the development of Journey to Justice?

Carrie: Young people have always been at the heart of Journey to Justice. When we launched Exposure consulted students from Haringey and Barnet about whether they thought our aims were relevant.

Young people were part of our first management committee, they have helped plan and deliver training and events, been on duty at our exhibitions, researched and told local stories, managed our social media, designed teaching modules on social justice issues for their peers and written blogs.

“The exhibition will be a good thing to ensure the struggle for freedom is not forgotten and that the way we live now, here, has a lot to do with the work of the civil rights movement,” Soumia Ouaar, 18

Tania: How have young people’s roles changed during this last year of lockdown?

Carrie: There was a significant increase in the number of young people contacting us after the murder of George Floyd. Young people have spoken at our online events about how to address systemic racism. Law students are helping us as we assess our own approach to equalities. Other young people research anti-poverty organisations, helping proof read material as we take our civil rights exhibition online and they are promoting the fundraising appeal for that project.
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Journey to Justice enables me to pursue the truth and to seek justice. I am part of something bigger than myself. I feel connected to a noble cause and as a result I believe that I am more human, loving, kind, generous and fulfilled.

We want to take Journey to Justice’s exhibition online and make it available free for all and that’s why we’re fundraising now. Please donate if you can and help spread the word.

Contact carrie@journeytojustice.org.uk if you’d like to get involved or want more information.

Tania Aubeelack is a young volunteer and trustee with Journey to Justice involved in fundraising events, training and coordinating volunteers in London.

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