JLUSA Launches JustUS Coordinating Council with Gathering on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, Inaugural “Second Chance Freedom Ball”


April 25, 2023

To close out “Second Chance Month” 2023, JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) is officially launching the JustUS Coordinating Council (JCC) with two major events in the nation’s capitol on Saturday, April 29:

In the morning, starting at 11am ET, there will be a launch gathering on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol with directly impacted speakers from across the country who will be speaking on and advocating for the constitutional rights and freedoms afforded to all Americans, but which have historically been denied to formerly incarcerated individuals.

This gathering will include remarks from JLUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins; Co-Executive Director of the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth Xavier McElrath-Bey; Kentucky state Rep. Keturah Herron; and other leaders, as well as spoken word by “Spoken Flow Poet” Hakim Crampton, emcee Rev. Mark Thompson, and a special appearance by Tony Lewis Jr. and Tony Lewis Sr., who was recently released from prison after 30+ years for a non-violent drug offense.

Hoskins said, “This came out of a vision I had for a march on Washington — like the Million Man March or the Poor People’s Campaign — where formerly incarcerated and directly impacted family members take on Capitol Hill and say, ‘We want to be recognized!’ We, as formerly incarcerated people, have never had a presence for our own voice. That’s what the JustUS Coordinating Council is about. We are saying to the Capitol and to the world, ‘We are here. We have a voice, and we’re going to have agency over our voice, and we’re going to drive our own agenda.’”

The JCC launch gathering will be livestreamed on JLUSA’s social media platforms, as well as by Roland Martin, Make It Plain, LIVE FREE USA, and other national media and organizational partners.

In the evening, JLUSA and the JCC will host the inaugural “Second Chance Freedom Ball” to celebrate the lives and commitment of formerly incarcerated leaders. This year’s first-of-its-kind celebration will feature remarks from Bill Underwood (via video), Darrell Jones, Jimmie Gardner (via video), Fox and Rob Rich, and Tony Lewis Sr. and Tony Lewis Jr.

While this year’s event at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill is already at capacity, JLUSA and the JCC plan for this to become an annual event. A waiting list is available now for anyone who wishes to sign up to find out about next year’s celebration.

Stephen Knight