Who We Are

Concerned Citizens for Justice

CCJ is a multi-racial Black Liberation organization that prioritizes the leadership of Black folks. Our over-arching goal is to end White Supremacy in the Chattanooga region. We believe in using a diverse set of tactics, so we approach this work many ways.

The main strategies we use to do this are political education of our members and communities; anti-State violence campaigns to defend our people from police violence and displacement; helping to build and coordinate movement among diverse people and frontlines; and through organizing with folks to develop consciousness of where we’re at, visions of the city and South that we need and deserve, and strategies that can lead our communities toward those visions. We see this work advancing the Movement for Black Lives and the Southern Freedom Movement.

Concerned Citizens for Justice (CCJ) was founded in 1984 by Maxine Cousin, Annie Thomas, and Ms. Thomas’ two daughters in the wake of the police murder of Wadie Suttles to address, publicize, and protest police brutality. The organization laid the groundwork for a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit which reorganized Chattanooga’s form of government.

CCJ was reactivated in 2012 after the murder of Trayvon Martin in order to fill a vacuum left by the assaults on and in hopes of reenergizing the Black Liberation Movement in Chattanooga. Based on its historical legacy, we chose to reactivate under the original name, but we firmly believe that citizenship is not a prerequisite for being treated with fairness and dignity and that no human being is illegal.

The first public action of CCJ in May 1984 photographed by the Chattanooga Times.

The organization was founded by four Black women–Maxine Cousin, Annie Thomas, Lisa Smith, and Lydia Thomas–to organize against police violence and racism after Wadie Suttles was beaten to death while in custody of the Chattanooga Police Department in the old Chattanooga City Jail (now the City Council Building).

This photo was from the first of a two-year long series of vigils held at the old jail. Thanks to Ms. Annie Thomas for sharing this photo and much respect to her and all of the founders and past members and leaders whose legacy we build on.