Art At UJC



Art at the Urban Justice Center proudly presents “We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains,” a new exhibit commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Black Panther Party. This show of Emory Douglas’ work, featuring work from the collection of Alden and Mary Kimbrough, will mark the culmination of our inaugural year of exhibitions.

Douglas is a renowned artist and former Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party, whose design concepts reflect the concerns of the community. His art has been displayed at the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. A retrospective of Douglas’s work was published in Art in America and is the subject of the book “Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas.”

“We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains” is curated by Shani Jamila, artist and UJC Managing Director.

Fifty Years Later, Black Panthers Art Still Restontates: NY Times, Oct 15, 2016

Emory Douglas


Emory Douglas was born May 24th, 1943 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has been a resident of the San Francisco California Bay Area since 1951. Douglas attended City College of San Francisco where he majored in commercial art. He was politically involved as Revolutionary Artist and then Minister of Culture for the Black Panther party, from February,1967 until the Early 1980’s. Douglas’s art and design concepts were always seen on the front and back pages of the Black Panther Newspaper, reflecting the politics of the Black Panther Party and the concerns of the community.

Soffiyah Elijah


Soffiyah Elijah is the Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York. She is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the nearly 170-year old organization in its mission to create a fairer and more humane criminal justice system. Ms. Elijah has dedicated her life to human rights and social activism, and is a frequent presenter at national and international forums on criminal justice policy and human rights issues.

An accomplished advocate, attorney, scholar, and educator, Ms. Elijah has practiced criminal and family law for more than 30 years. Prior to leading the Correctional Association, Ms. Elijah served as Deputy Director and Clinical Instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. Before moving to Harvard, she was a member of the faculty and Director and Supervising Attorney of the Defender Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law. Ms. Elijah has also worked as a Supervising Attorney at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, a Staff Attorney at the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society, and in private practice.

Robyn C. Spencer


Robyn C. Spencer is a historian that focuses on Black social protest after World War II, urban and working-class radicalism, and gender. She teaches survey and seminar courses on Black history at Lehman College, City University of New York. Her book The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland, on gender and the organizational evolution of the Black Panther Party in Oakland is forthcoming from Duke University Press in November 2016. Her writings on the Black Panther Party have appeared in the Journal of Women's History, Souls, Radical Teacher and several collections of essays on the 1960s.

In 2016 she received a Mellon fellowship at Yale University to work on her second book project. This project examines how working class African Americans’ anti-imperialist consciousness in the 1950s - 1970s shaped their engagement with the movement against the Vietnam War. In many ways, it continues her emphasis on exploring overlapping and intersecting boundaries between social protest movements. She is also working on a short biography of Angela Davis for Westview Press’ Lives of American women series. She is a committed activist and participates in many grassroots education initiatives aimed at bringing the history of the Black Power movement to community based spaces.

Shani Jamila

Exhibition Curator


Shani Jamila is an artist and cultural worker whose travels to more than forty countries deeply inform her collage, text and documentary photography practice. Her work, which addresses themes of identity, political imagination and witness, has been exhibited at institutions including the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Smack Mellon ­Gallery, SCOPE Art Fair, Corridor Gallery, the City College of New York and Princeton University. She has performed and hosted community conversations at the Brooklyn Museum, Lincoln Center, Pacifica Radio, the National Portrait Gallery, the Phillips Collection and the United Nations. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture filmed an interview about her life and work for their inaugural exhibit “A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond.”

A Fulbright scholar with over a decade of leadership in designing and executing programs that use the arts to catalyze social change, Jamila currently serves as a managing director of the Urban Justice Center in New York City. Previously, she directed a culturally grounded mentorship initiative to support the empowerment of incarcerated teens; interviewed artists, writers and change makers as the host and producer of a weekly talk radio show; led an international book drive to co-found a school library; and produced the Art of Activism seminar series at Howard University.

Shani is a skilled public speaker who has lectured about her work from Turkey, Switzerland and Italy to Jamaica, Gabon and Brazil. Her expertise at the intersection of human rights and the arts has been recognized by the broad range of organizations she’s advised, including the National Cares Mentoring Movement, D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, New School Humanities Action Lab, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, African Diaspora Heritage Trail, US Human Rights Network and the Academy for Educational Development. Jamila’s career has been featured in a mural at her alma mater Spelman College, as well as in publications like the New York Times, Trinidad Guardian, the London based literary magazine Sable and the 35th anniversary issue of ESSENCE—as “One of the 35 Most Remarkable Women in the World.”

Past Events

The Art of Disruption, Rap Sheet to Resume

October 29, 2015 | Facebook event page
The Urban Justice Center (40 Rector St, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10006)

Favianna Rodriguez

Favianna Rodriguez

Artist, activist and cultural organizer

Gregory Sale

Gregory Sale

Artist, activist

Melissa Mark-Viverito

Melissa Mark-Viverito

Speaker, NYC City Council

Glenn Martin

Glenn Martin

Founder, Just Leadership USA

Johnny Perez

Johnny Perez

UJC Safe Re-Entry Advocate

Susan Goodwillie

Susan Goodwillie

Actress; UJC Social Worker

Doug Lasdon

Opening Remarks: Doug Lasdon

UJC Founder & Exec. Dir

Marisa Morán Jahn

Exhibition Curator: Marisa Morán Jahn

Artist, Activist, UJC Designer

Art at UJC

As one of the nation’s leading legal service providers to over 19,000 of New York City’s most vulnerable residents each year, the Urban Justice Center (UJC) believes that art plays a critical role in re-sensitizing us to overlooked or complex issues — as well as moving us to act. By curating and commissioning original works by diverse artists, UJC invites new ways to reflect upon its work, forge new connections, foster innovation, and to move the public to take action on issues critical to its mission.

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"Art plays a critical role in making us feel and think about today's most pressing social issues."

Doug Lasdon, Executive Director, UJC