Necessary for My Release: Racial Policing and Criminal Justice Reform during the Great Migration


ACLS Project Development Grants


Behavioral Sciences


"Necessary for My Release" is the first study to systematically examine Black reformers' multidimensional pursuit of criminal justice reform during the Great Migration. While numerous studies have shown how working-class African Americans challenged systems of racial policing, there are still significant gaps in our understanding of the nature and scope of Black reform work. This has left us with an incomplete picture of the broader struggle for equal justice. "Necessary for My Release" argues that Black reformers' efforts to address discriminatory policing must be understood in connection with their other racial-advancement enterprises. Activists in the Black press, NAACP, and Urban League actively contested police misconduct and campaigned against rhetoric that criminalized Black life.