National Conference for Community and Justice, Rhode Island and South Eastern New England Region
This profile was last updated in 2006
The National Conference for Community and Justice/Rhode Island and South Eastern New England Region is a regional branch of the National Conference for Community and Justice, formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews. The main focus of the NCCJ’s work is to fight bias and prejudice by promoting understanding and respect among all people through community building. The three methods it uses are: education, conflict resolution, and advocacy. The six groups of leaders it involves are: faith leaders, corporate leaders, media and advertising leaders, youth and emerging leaders, governmental leaders, and education leaders. In recent times in Rhode Island, the NCCJ has been involved with the issue of racial profiling in law enforcement and the question of sexual orientation in the Boy Scouts of America. It sponsors a week-long summer residential youth leadership, community building, and diversity institute called ANYTOWN.
The year 2002 was the NCCJ/RI’s 50th anniversary and also the occasion of a major re-visioning in response to the many issues raised by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The NCCJ/RI was especially concerned that United States and Rhode Island communities might give in to anger and begin to terrorize their neighbors and strangers because of how they look or practice religion. The NCCJ/RI worked to cultivate opportunities for the development of a more inclusive community, united by tragedy but with a renewed respect for the fundamental principles of freedom of religion and respect for differences. To promote this goal, the NCCJ/RI adopted seven key concepts: being a hub for community leadership; speaking out for tolerance and understanding; educating wide audiences; increasing visibility; monitoring public policy; continuing its existing agenda; and organizing a major, visible, and tangible outlet for all citizens to focus energy on building community and to provide a lasting tribute to the hope and goodwill of the people of Rhode Island. The latter came to fruition in the “Wall of Hope” for which 10,000 people of all ages, ethnicities, and religious and cultural backgrounds painted six-by-six inch tiles depicting their visions of hope for the future. These were assembled into a wall that was ceremonially unveiled by the State of Rhode Island and the City of Providence on September 11, 2002. For more information on NCCJ/RI’s ongoing programming, please consult their website.