Houston/Marshall Plan

The Houston/Marshall Plan for Community Justice begins with our acknowledgement of the war-like devastation that has been inflicted upon poor communities of color in our nation’s cities. This devastation is the result of policies and practices of disinvestment that cut across otherwise separate domains – including transportation, housing, education, recreation, public safety, job creation, and health care – that have created an impenetrable web of disadvantage. One of the most debilitating consequences has been the dilution of a sense of membership – the cornerstone of citizenship – such that persons most directly affected by these policies have had no voice in their shape or implementation.

The Houston/Marshall Plan proceeds from a simple premise: These voices must be raised, heard, and at the center of our efforts to rebuild. In practical terms, this means that programs and interventions must be locally conceived, and grounded in the wealth of knowledge, experience and determination that exist within communities across the country. It is time to invest these assets in our future. This website is designed to serve as a bank for new ideas, programs, policies, and public advocacy; a bank into which we can all deposit and from which we can all withdraw, and one which we hope will enrich us all.

Why “Houston/Marshall Plan”?

Announced by Secretary of State George Marshall here at Harvard University in 1947, the Marshall Plan was an initiative by the U.S. government to rebuild European economies in the aftermath of World War II. Over the years, many people have referenced the need for a version of a “new Marshall Plan” when calling for efforts to rebuild our cities in the wake of the wars on crime and drugs.

Obama quote Marshall plan

(Click here to see a timeline of more of these calls for action.)

Our approach to this work is loosely modeled after the original Marshall Plan, and also inspired by the work and insights of Charles Hamilton Houston, a civil rights giant of the 20th century, who wrote, “All our struggles must tie in together,” as a warning that social and racial inequality cannot be effectively addressed in piecemeal fashions. And in keeping with Houston’s student, Thurgood Marshall, who warned that “sometimes history takes things into its own hands,” the plan outlined here emphasizes the role of people living in communities to shape the policies that guide this rebuilding.