Honoring Black History Month at GOSO


Black History is more than just a month and we all must work towards change every day — A February Message from Dr. Jocelynne Rainey, GOSO President & CEO

It feels like yesterday that we were waiting to ring in the new year and say farewell to the dark cloud of 2020. But as much as things have changed — COVID-19 is still very much a part of our everyday reality; and given the fits and starts in rolling out the vaccine, incarcerated individuals still represent one of the groups most at risk. As Ashish Prashar, GOSO Board Member, recently told The Washington Post, “Whatever your politics are, it’s just science here. If you don’t vaccinate inside prisons, you’re never going to stop outbreaks outside of prisons.”

COVID has shown that we are connected throughout this country and around the globe. What affects one affects us all.

As I think about Black History Month, a time for America to acknowledge and honor the contributions that African Americans have made to this country, I am proud to lead an organization that is working to expand our program and resources for Black and brown men. At GOSO, we are just getting started because there’s no glossing over the fact that Black and Latinx people are still five times more likely to be stopped without cause than white people. New York State’s official motto is Excelsior—meaning “ever upward” in Latin. We are working to realize this motto by working with our participants to realize their dreams.

Honoring Black History Month with Dr. C. Nicole Mason, CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy

Throughout the month of February, we have many activities in store to honor the achievements of Black Americans and we will elevate our work to build to a more just America. On February 18th I will have a conversation with Dr. C. Nicole Mason, CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and author of Born Bright, a powerful memoir of her life in the 1970s in Los Angeles and growing up in poverty and being touched by parental incarceration. Yet despite these hurdles, she built a life of purpose, service, and impact. In addition to being a prolific writer, Dr. Mason teaches a class on gender, race, and incarceration at Georgetown University, and is regularly interviewed in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Fortune.

We are especially thrilled to be able to create a space where we can all learn from thought leaders on criminal justice reform and the most pressing issues affecting the justice involved.

In case you missed it, please check out our new Justice Transformer of the Month series—highlighting individuals who are working tirelessly to create a more equitable world. Our inaugural Justice Transformer, Viveka Hulyalkar, is an inspiration to our GOSO Team. She is a dedicated member of our Action Board and co-founder of Beam Impact, an app and integration that allows customers to donate 1% of what they spend at mission-led brands to a values-aligned nonprofit of their choice. For this month, February, we are excited to honor Kwame Fynn, an asset manager at Goldman Sachs, as our second Justice Transformer. Kwame is also a member of our dynamic Action Board and has been a dedicated volunteer for several years. Read our interview with him as we discuss equity in hiring to create greater access in corporate industries.

Become a GOSO Ambassador

Last year was incredible for GOSO on so many levels. The coronavirus pandemic literally redefined our work in every way imaginable. For months on end, city agencies were either closed or operating with a skeleton crew. But with a healthy dose of perseverance, our team and program participants made a way out of no way.

Even more encouraging, we’ve been hearing from people like you—tireless advocates who believe in ending this vicious cycle of mass incarceration. Please continue spreading the message and sounding the alarm—2021 is the year we must finally call on our better angels to bring about the change that’s long overdue!