2. “Each day, Black defenders show up in courts across the
country to fight for justice and dignity for their
communities… and then the fight comes home with them. For
BPDA members, the work is professional and personal.”
The Black Public Defender Association was founded in November 2018 to
equip Black defenders with the tools to end mass incarceration and dismantle
the racist criminal legal system.
BPDA prepares Black public defenders to be powerful advocates and
transformational leaders, because Americans need and deserve legal
representation that is not just sympathetic to racism and oppression, but
meaningfully informed by and fighting against it.
“Mass incarceration will have to be dismantled the same way it
was constructed: piecemeal, incrementally, and, above all,
- James Foreman, Jr.
3. Black defenders share lived experience with impacted
communities. Black defenders are experts who understand how
law and institutionalized racism oppress people across
intersecting systems: the criminal legal system, the housing market,
public education, family defense, voting rights, food access, and more.
Black civil rights attorneys
Black legal support professionals
“Black public defenders” include All
advocates working to bring justice and
racial equity to their communities.
Black public defenders are allies, advocates, and
systems experts poised to:
Elevate the voices of their clients and their communities,
Provide most excellent possible representation to clients,
Shine a light on systemic inequities and design alternatives,
Write the playbook for dismantling systems of oppression.
5. “Black public defenders have the experience, insights, and
identities to understand the extent of the brokenness and
violence of the legal system, and the expertise to make the
changes needed to this system.”
Co-Founder & Chair
April co-founded BPDA while
leading the National Legal Aid and
Defense Association as its Chief of
Lifelong Learning. She is a
nationally recognized trainer in the
area of leadership, racial equity,
diversity and inclusion,and criminal
Previously, April worked for eight
years with the Public Defender
Service for D.C., and also served as
the Special Assistant in the Juvenile
Defender Unit at the Law Office of
the Shelby County,Tennessee.
Co-Founder and Vice-Chair
Patrice James, Director of
Community Justice at the Shriver
Center on Poverty Law, has spent
her career tackling the inequities of
the criminal justice system.
Most recently she was a founding
attorney of Still She Rises in Tulsa,
where she led holistic legal
representation for low-income
women of color, engaged in
community building, and shifted
the narrative of women involved in
the criminal justice system “from
broken women to broken systems.”
6. Are you grateful for black public defenders?
Are you a black public defender?
We’re here for you - with skills training, a supportive
community, and shared commitment to racial equity.
Contact Us: BlackPublicDefenderAssociation@gmail.com
Your dollars will make all of this possible.
Support this fight: www.blackdefender.org/donate
All donations are tax-deductible.
Become a BPDA member!
Join us as an ally!