When he hired Song Richardson as a trial lawyer at the Seattle law firm Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, Jeffery Robinson knew she’d represent their clients with the highest passion and professionalism. He and Richardson would become friends over the years, and today, Robinson is one of her biggest supporters.
After leaving private practice, Robinson worked for the ACLU as a deputy legal director and directed the ACLU Trone Center for Justice and Equality. His four decades of experience working on criminal justice, racial justice, and reform issues led him to become executive director of The Who We Are Project, for which he wrote the film “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America.” The documentary depicts how centuries of systemic racism impede Black Americans’ ability to create and accumulate wealth.
Robinson says Richardson’s experience in changing an organization’s culture for the better makes her the ideal person to lead Colorado College at this point, several years after the college committed to antiracism.
“Antiracist work has been in Song’s DNA since probably before she left law school. Her career has been devoted to this, and she has been outspoken on these issues at every single place that she’s been,” says Robinson. “She will establish a culture by making it clear that people can debate political ideas, race, and racism without sinking to the level of hurtful speech and threats of violence.”
He says Richardson has the potential to impact the rising generation — the minds that will lead America into the future.
“Song is brilliant, an educator from the word go. Her commitment to these issues, and to enhancing people’s education is just supreme. So, she is lucky to have this position. But I promise you, Colorado College is lucky to have her,” says Robinson.
For students beginning their journey at Colorado College and just learning about antiracism, Robinson warns it will be a lifelong struggle.
“They have to understand we are talking about dismantling centuries of systemic racism. It’s not going to happen in a minute. Students can start there at Colorado College to educate themselves on these topics. Every area they go into is going to have issues of racism in it because we’re in America. They want to go into banking, you think racism hasn’t impacted banking and banking policies? It’s in everything. And once they understand the history and know it, then when they go into jobs in these areas, they’re going to be seeing things other folks aren’t even aware of. That’s the way they start to change culture, in a community, in a college, and in a country,” Robinson says.
The Who We Are Project will soon educate viewers about the 1876 election in which Rutherford B. Hayes became the 19th president of the United States. Actor Tom Hanks will narrate the animated mini-documentary explaining the end of the Reconstruction Era, during which the Union troops left the South, and Black Americans became subjected to Jim Crow laws (state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation), lynchings, and other brutalities. It will focus urgency of voting in the upcoming midterm elections.