John R. Rickford is one of the few linguists who has diligently combined descriptive and theoretical linguistic research with applied work. More specifically, he has been a tireless advocate for marginalized vernacular varieties of language and social justice for their speakers. Here I focus on two of the areas discussed in John’s seminal article of 20 years ago, ‘An Unequal Partnership’ (Rickford 1997b); a rally cry for sociolinguists to give back more to the communities they study. These concern the formal education system and the legal system.