Lifting your Voice for Justice: 3 Leadership Lessons from Laura Coates

Artika Tyner Posted by Artika Tyner, Author, Professor.

Public Policy Professor and Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the University of St. Thomas, Leadership Author, Civil Rights Attorney

Lifting your Voice for Justice: 3 Leadership Lessons from Laura Coates

Statue of justice

For leaders, there is a beckoning call to promote justice and freedom. Will you answer the call? Answering the call is the recognition that we lead to change the world. This is a simple but yet profound statement related to each individual’s capacity to influence the world around them through the exercise of leadership. Leadership provides a vehicle to change the world day by day, moment by moment.

Change begins with the development of a collective vision of the future. Leaders inspire others to envision a world where justice and freedom reign supreme. This is a vision of fostering a community that promotes justice and equality.

Laura Coates is lifting her voice to make this vision a lived a reality. Her journey for justice has been a lifelong pursuit. Her passion for making a difference and challenging injustice motivated her to become an attorney. As a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, she traveled across the country advocating for voting rights, supervising elections, and leading investigations into allegations of unconstitutional voting and electoral practices. As an Assistant United States Attorney, she served the people of the District of Columbia as a federal prosecutor seeking justice for victims of violent crimes, domestic violence and sexual assault. Now, she is using her experiences to analyze and inform the national dialogue on criminal justice reform. This is a vision of radical transformation of policies and practices in order to eradicate the tangled web of mass incarceration. She recognizes that she cannot win this battle alone hence she is challenging others to find their voice and take a stand for justice.

Laura is mobilizing a social justice movement through her work as a legal expert and commentator. Within this capacity, she is advocating for justice each and every day. Laura is an influential voice in media outlets ranging from news media to social media. You can hear her mix of critical analysis, humor, legal expertise, and common sense approach on SiriusXM’s Insight and Urbanview channels. She is using her platform to inform and engage the public about their legal rights and helping concerned citizens to navigate the viable channels for criminal justice reform. Audiences across the nation are a fan of this acclaimed legal commentator which is evidenced by the engagement of her Twitter followers. Long after her daily radio show concludes, fans are tweeting questions and comments to @thelauracoates.

During our interview, Laura Coates shared 3 practical tips on how you can lift your voice for justice:
1) Discover the leader within.
You have immense power in your hands. The type of transformative power needed to create a more just world. Laura warns to “never be the one to underestimate yourself or your mind.” You can make a difference. Based upon her experience, Laura has discovered that those who excel allow their confidence to outpace their skills, and trust in their ability to find the answer. This type of confidence provides the motivation for using your influence to impact laws and policies.

Laura is modeling way. This past year, she took a leap of faith and reinvented herself as a legal commentator. She is unstoppable in her pursuit of using her prosecutorial experience, constitutional expertise, and passion for civil rights to pursue policy and reforms on a national scale. She is confident in her ability to enlighten everyday people about their legal rights and empower them to make strategic decisions.

2) Let your voice be heard.
According to Laura, in order to advance social justice, “you must be willing to speak up and speak often!” Advocates for justice are willing to give voice to the issues impacting those who are at the margins of society. This process reshapes the narrative and brings the issues associated with marginalization to the forefront of public discourse. For instance, if you are passionate about ending mass incarceration, speak up for the over 2 million people who are incarcerated and share their stories. Speak up for ending child poverty by giving voice to the 15.5 children in America who are living in poverty. With your voice, you have the power to challenge injustice.

3) Make a difference.

Leaders recognize that we must move beyond imagining a new world to creating it. This a manifestation of our shared humanity and common destiny.

Laura concluded our interview with a stirring call to action by admonishing each of us to “care enough about a problem to offer a solution.” It is often times tempting to identify, critique and assess a social problem. The challenges facing the world may seem too big to solve. How can we dismantle the school to prison pipeline? What steps do we need to take to support second chances and re-entry? Despite the magnitude of these social problems, Laura is challenging each of us to take action when we see a problem to work towards a practical solution.

Remember, never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has (Margaret Mead).

Now, is the time to change the world by lifting your voice for justice!



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