A new ice cream flavor gives a taste of justice

On Sept. 3, 2019, the Advancement Project National Office, a local civil rights organization, announced their partnership with Ben & Jerry’s in creating “Justice Remix’d”, an ice cream flavor that offers the public a taste of justice and action when it comes to the criminal legal system in America.

The organization’s mission is to “…use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change.” This collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s is a perfect example of innovative tools being used to educate those who may not be privy to the importance of criminal justice reform. 

The partnership was “a blessing and a lesson in networking,” said Zerline Hughes Spruill, managing director of communications at the Advancement Project National Office. Ben & Jerry’s reached out to the organization and after hearing about Advancement Project National Office’s work and reform in the criminal legal system, the ice cream flavor was born in hopes that a spoonful of the creamy goodness can start a much-needed conversation about justice reform. 

“This was Ben & Jerry’s being proactive and in a sense, reactive to what’s going on in our nation as it relates to the criminal legal system” said Hughes Spruill.

Inside the container is a mixture of chocolate and cinnamon ice cream with cinnamon bun dough and spicy brownie. The staff at Advancement Project National Office had a major hand in the carton design, which features people of all colors and ethnicities protesting with signs and ice cream cones in hand. The container also bears the Advancement Project’s logo and a brief write-up on the work being done by the organization. 

A part of the proceeds from the ice cream sales will go to train lawyers, organizers and communicators of the organization in their efforts to close jails, empower grassroots organizations and spur change. Although important, this collaboration is not only about the money. 

“We have an opportunity to leverage these new relationships with people who don’t know anything about criminal legal system or the criminal justice system. They know nothing about race disparities and through ice cream, they’re about to learn,” says Hughes Spruill. She spoke heavily on the power of education and taking action, hoping that once the ice cream is scooped, conversations about what is happening and how to stop things from happening can take place.

Although important, money is not the only positive outcome in this collaboration. Advancement Project National Office hopes that people will check out their social media accounts, known for bringing relevant information to the timeline in a sarcastic, sassy voice. The social media accounts were the attracting factor two years ago for Hughes Spruill when she joined the team. She enjoyed the “in your face” and real quality that their social media has because it catches the eye, yet still educates.

 The Close the Workhouse project began in St. Louis in 2018 with the goal of closing an inhumane jail that houses people who cannot afford cash bail. On the web page dedicated to this campaign, Thomas Harvey, senior attorney and justice project program director for Advancement Project National Office, said “There are eight times as many Black detainees as White detainees in the jail, even though the Black population makes up only 47 percent of the City of St. Louis.”

The organization has also created We Came to Learn, an initiative to create police-free schools in Miami. They have also partnered with Ferguson Collaborative in Ferguson, Missouri, home of Mike Brown Jr. who was killed five years ago, to win seats on the Ferguson City Council and taking other steps towards justice so that cases such as Mike Brown Jr. will not occur again. 

When asked to describe the mission and work of the Advancement Project National Office in one sentence, Hughes Spruill wrapped up her sentence by saying the organization has, “the ultimate goal of getting people of color free.” This phrase transforms from words to action when it comes to this organization. 

Hughes Spruill urges people to get involved with their communities and local civic associations because that is where the real work begins. She also stresses the importance of not just voting, but truly understanding what’s going on and casting a vote in the direction of change. 

Advancement Project National Office has proven that they are committed to doing what they say they are going to do. Ran by a Black woman, Judith Browne Dianis, and employing a diverse staff which can be seen through a picture directory on their site, they are aware of the importance that representation plays in achieving justice. They hope that this partnership with Ben & Jerry’s will be a scoop in the right direction of spreading their message to the masses that justice for all matters and they are working tirelessly to set people free. 

Check out the organization on Twitter @adv_project and Instagram @advancementproject to get a glimpse of the work, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. More information can be found at advancementproject.org like ways to get involved and research reports on their projects and campaigns. Advancement Project National Office will also celebrate their 20th anniversary on Oct. 17 in Washington, D.C.