Lawyers are used to fighting for justice and protecting people’s rights. That’s their job. So when anyone’s rights are threatened, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, lawyers are often the first ones to step up. They are the first line of defense. We’ve seen this quite often in the past few months.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is an organization that fights the same good fight. Their mission is: “To stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all…” The ADL aims aim to fight “threats to our very democracy, including cyberhate, bullying, bias in schools and in the criminal justice system, terrorism, hate crimes, coercion of religious minorities, and contempt for anyone who is different.”
Yesterday, Rocket Matter was proud to host Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the ADL. As Larry Port, CEO of Rocket Matter, said in his introduction, “In the America that we grew up in, the desecrations of Jewish cemeteries, mosque vandalism, and the rhetoric we’re hearing is alien, like something out of a history book. It makes me optimistic that someone as eminently capable as Jonathan is leading the charge against these forces as the head of the ADL.”
That’s certainly not an understatement. Before heading ADL, Jonathan served in the White House as Special Assistant to President Obama and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. Previously, he had a long career as a serial social entrepreneur and corporate executive: He co-founded Ethos Brands, the business that launched Ethos Water, the premium bottled water that helps children around the world access clean water. Jonathan also founded All for Good (AFG), one of the largest databases of volunteer opportunities.
Jonathan came to Rocket Matter to talk about how we can all make a difference and explained that there are three main ways: Advocacy, education, and law enforcement training. Here’s what else he spoke about:
- He emphasized the critical role lawyers play, as a lot of the work the ADL accomplishes is done through these heroes.
- People can also help by building coalitions with other groups that experience discrimination such as Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos so we can “build a base and lock arms.”
- We can help bring a No Place for Hate program to our local communities and schools to help organize a framework for combating bias, bullying, and hatred.
- Jonathan explained the ADL’s new technological initiatives. At SXSW this year, for instance, he announced that the organization will build a command center in Silicon Valley to combat hate online. As Jonathan explained at Rocket Matter, “The extremists, racists, and trolls used to hide in the shadows. Now, because of social media, these people can reach a wider audience at a faster pace than ever before while remaining anonymous.” The center in Silicon Valley will use its resources to help mitigate such harassment and hatred online. The ADL is also partnering with Google, the NAACP, and other organizations to help fight hate.
- The ADL is hosting a National Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. from May 7-9. Leaders and activists will join together to help shape the organization’s advocacy agenda as well as the national policy conversation for the year.
The ADL continues to help ensure that all people are treated fairly. They promote kindness. However, we have a long way to go. “While America is one of the most accepting places in the world, incidents have gone up,” Jonathan explains. “We have our challenges, and it’s not going to get any easier.” In other words, we are all in this fight together.