Capri Maddox is leading a frontier into a new sense of equality within Los Angeles. As the first executive director of the newly developed Civil and Human Rights Department, she is cultivating a stronger resource to be available for underserved communities. The mission behind the Civil and Human Rights Department is “Protecting Angelenos and anyone who works or visits the City of Los Angeles from discrimination that denies equal treatment in private employment, housing, education, or commerce.” The disparities found in any community will be faced head on, with investigation and enforcement of the L.A. Civil and Human Rights Ordinance.
Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated Attorney Maddox as the first executive director of the newly designed department in February of this year. The mayor stated within the press release, “Capri’s intellect and powerful sense of justice and equality will make her an outstanding leader of the Department of Civil and Human Rights. Everyone in L.A. should live free of discrimination that denies basic human dignity and violates our rights as Americans. We will stand up for each other and put our values at the center of all the work that the department will do.”
Maddox has dedicated much of her life energy to carry out works that benefit communities that are usually underrepresented, and provide channels for the entire city to thrive. Within her position as former senior advisor to City Attorney Mike Feuer, Maddox directed initiatives such as the City Attorney Business Support program and attorney recruitment and outreach efforts. She designed the blueprints for a Foster Care Diversion Program and oversaw the City Attorney Faith Based Council.
The new executive director has always responded to the voices of the community, Maddox was involved in key Neighborhood Council and City Council requests. Additionally, she has been a strong presence within criminal and civil cases, school safety efforts with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and served as a Neighborhood Prosecutor from 2005-2010. She has shown her ability to make the most with the tools given to her and fill gaps in social inequality within the community.
“My role is important for a few reasons; we have systemically been mistreated, underrepresented, disrespected in so many ways. I know the focus is related to perhaps things happening in law enforcement, but some of the systemic issues are affecting us in our lives, in our health, in our education systems, and in our opportunities. The damage is for generations to come.” Attorney Maddox continued to explain that we need to step up and address those disparities. She broke down how deep rooted and entangled the inequalities are within communities of color.
For so long, many doors were intentionally closed, and candidates of color overlooked; this has dramatically affected family lines for generations. Maddox explained within the current social pipeline that breeds systemic racism, causes long-term harm and continues to create an environment for certain neighborhoods to be more susceptible to falling behind, unable to break free from the lines of poverty and poor health conditions.
There are three principles that Maddox is looking to stand on in this department: Educate and address the root of the issue, confront and expose the disparities, and carry out affirmative action that results in meaningful change. “We have to expose this type of behavior, because people are focusing on one area in the front of the house, and the back of the house is being robbed blind” Attorney Maddox emphasized that as a community, there is no room for imbalance; she is working towards leveling out the playing field, creating “upward mobility as a people.”
The inequities are most visible within the spread of COVID-19, small businesses and overall wellbeing of certain populations have been affected at a higher rate than other ethnicities. This is due to the pre-existing disadvantage of not having the proper resources, they would have worked as a level of armor in all communities when the pandemic hit. Attorney Maddox acknowledged the effects are causing unprecedented trauma within communities of color, due to a deeply-rooted system that was formulated with no clear pathway of opportunity.
There is no time left, the change must happen now. Although the Department of Civil and Human Rights will officially launch online in July, Attorney Maddox is working on blueprints for Upward Mobility programs and events, and will be affiliated with the racial equity initiatives announced by Mayor Garcetti on June 19. Looking towards a post pandemic future, Maddox painted her goals to help people prepare for uplifting the community.
College boot camps that involve the whole family, job training, home ownership, and retirement planning are some of the upcoming projects. Maddox is looking to partner with community-based organizations, faith-based institutions, business groups, neighborhood councils, philanthropic groups, universities, and Human Relations committees to execute these events and bring substantial difference in the quality of life to all residents. “I’m very grateful for the mayor and city council, particularly Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Herb Wesson, Gil Cedillo, and Curren Price for making the push for these resources.”
There are eyes on the LAPD and overall use of law enforcement; the Civil and Human Rights Department is looking to be a conscience within local government, but the CHRD will be tackling private sectors. Studies and research will find the gaps in equal opportunity across industries, there will be a level of transparency from all firms within their representation. Other studies on the radar to conduct include food distribution and business development; this will empower the audience to be mindful of what is being supported.
A vivid picture Attorney Maddox painted referenced the documentary, “The Inconvenient Truth,” the analogy encompasses the current path of the world is going to lead to an unhealthy future if we don’t stop the disparities. “The movie, “Inconvenient Truth” was a warning about climate change, and said if we didn’t change our ways and deal with the environmental imbalances, we would have more storms, and they would happen more frequently, in various places and they will be more intense. And that is the same thing that we are experiencing in the African American [community] – inconvenient truth.”