The Houston Institute approaches public policy through “Community Justice.” This approach reflects both Charles Hamilton Houston’s admonition that “all our struggles must tie together” and a fundamental truth about public policy-making: in the United States, public policies are formulated by the few to serve the few. The standard policy-making mechanisms reward those who participate in the political process and ignore or exclude those who do not.
In contrast, the Houston Institute’s notion of community justice recognizes that citizenship has two basic elements: membership and participation. In a society that is defined by denying membership to a large segment of its population, it is unrealistic to expect participation. We believe we must create pathways to membership and participation, and find ways to identify and amplify the voices, of those too long excluded.
This fight for equality of educational opportunity [was] not an isolated struggle. All our struggles must tie in together and support one another. . . . We must remain on the alert and push the struggle farther with all our might.
– Charles Hamilton Houston