From ACLU of Northern California <[email protected]>
Subject Black Testimony Matters
Date February 24, 2022 10:00 PM
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Listen to the secon episode of the Gold Chains podcast.

Friend –

Last summer, we launched the first episode of the Gold Chains podcast entitled "California Fugitive Slave Law" to document the hidden history of slavery in California and the systemic racial discrimination that took root during the early days of statehood.

Now in our second episode, "Black Testimony Matters," <[link removed]> we delve into the racist nineteenth century "testimony exclusion laws" which prohibited Black, Indigenous, and Chinese Californians from testifying against white defendants. The guilty sometimes walked free because the only eyewitness was not allowed to speak in court.

Please listen to the podcast <[link removed]> and you'll also learn about the Colored Conventions, an African American organizing movement that fought for civil rights, including repeal of the testimony laws.

While these statutes eventually were wiped from the books, justice for Black people often remains elusive.

That's why each time a jury reaches a verdict in the police murder of a Black person we fear justice will not be rendered. And it's why we were deeply relieved when Ahmaud Arbery's killers were found guilty, even though defense attorneys had purged all but one African American from the pool of eligible jurors.

We invite you to listen to the episode, <[link removed]> which further connects past discriminatory laws to a system that still discredits Black witnesses and excludes jurors based on race.

In the United States, we're taught that justice is blind, and everyone is treated equally before the law. But whether someone is stopped by police, arrested, prosecuted, or convicted can have as much to do with race as with innocence or guilt. This holds true even in "progressive" states like ours.

Here at the ACLU of Northern California we recognize that our judicial system is neither fair nor impartial, and it is our mission to fight for the promise of "justice for all."

We've made progress, but there's still much more work to do.

Thanks for listening,

Abdi Soltani

Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California
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