A tweet from Mashable prompted me to remember that before we launched Just Elders we explored many different organizations. Many among us were stunned by what happened in the election. Many were looking to do something constructive. Many were feeling powerless.
This short video by Dr. Dana Rovang drove home the question that we needed to answer.
We are not powerless and it is important to remember that we are not alone. It is important to discover what those who began this journey at the same time we did are doing. It is also important to learn from those who have been in the trenches a long time.
We began with The Women’s March. The reach of the Women’s March has expanded to include organizing youth, and registering people to vote.
“The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists & organizers to engage in their local communities through trainings, outreach programs and events. Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect.” https://www.womensmarch.com/mission/>
Many Just Elders participated in the women’s march in Washington D.C. or in their cities. There has been a tremendous rise in political and civic participation by women. They work is responsible for changes in congress and in state houses.
When tech entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd created an online petition about the Clinton impeachment in 1998 and emailed it to friends, they were as surprised as everyone else when it went viral. Although neither had experience in politics, they shared deep frustration with the partisan warfare in Washington D.C. and the ridiculous waste of our nation’s focus at the time of the Clinton impeachment mess. Within days, their petition to “Censure President Clinton and Move On to Pressing Issues Facing the Nation” had hundreds of thousands of signatures. For the first time in history, an online petition broke into and helped transform the national conversation.
In the years that followed, MoveOn pioneered the field of online organizing, innovating a vast array of tactics that are now commonplace in advocacy and elections and shifting power toward real people and away from Washington insiders and special interests. MoveOn campaigners were the first to use the internet to run virtual phone banks, to crowdsource TV ad production, and to take online organizing offline, using the internet to mobilize activists to knock on doors and attend events. We proved that individual Americans could pool lots of small contributions to make a big impact by raising hundreds of millions of dollars for progressive causes and candidates.
Michael Moore is one person whose movies have grown from his experience in the rust belt. His ten things to do list is still there: https://michaelmoore.com/10pointplan/ He site now more clearly promotes his movies and books. His site is promoting his new movie, Fahrenheit 11/9
Indivisible was an early leader of the resistance movement. Indivisible at says “Our mission is to fuel a progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist the Trump Agenda. In every congressional district in the country, people like you are starting local groups and leading local actions.” <https://www.indivisible.org/> If you have not read their guide, here is the link: Since the retirement of Justice Kennedy they have launched a guide to a two step process for this fight. Here is the link:
The Young People who inspired us have our clear purpose:
Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a gun to save the lives of their students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives. This is not just about schools, though. This is about churches, nightclubs, concerts, movie theaters, airports—it’s everywhere.
They have articulated their agenda:
- Universal, comprehensive background checks
- Bringing the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) into the 21st century with a digitized, searchable database
- Funds for the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to research the gun violence epidemic in America
- High-capacity magazine ban
- A ban on semi-automatic assault rifles
They are determined:
We will not stop our advocacy until we see the change we demand – a change that is necessary in order to save innocent lives across our nation.
Black Lives Matter is a very important site to explore. This is what is says about the movement:
“In 2013, three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman.
The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. Our members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.
Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” <https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/herstory/> Check out their Healing Justice resources and toolkits.
We design campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward. Until justice is real.
The ACLU tells this story about its history. “In the years following World War I, America was gripped by the fear that the Communist Revolution that had taken place in Russia would spread to the United States. As is often the case when fear outweighs rational debate, civil liberties paid the price. In November 1919 and January 1920, in what notoriously became known as the “Palmer Raids,” Attorney General Mitchell Palmer began rounding up and deporting so-called radicals. Thousands of people were arrested without warrants and without regard to constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure. Those arrested were brutally treated and held in horrible conditions.” For almost 100 years ACLU has defended people when their constitutional protections are violated. <https://www.aclu.org/about/aclu-history>
Use this link above to reach the Swing Left website: Enter your zip code to discover a congressional district near you where your work can make a difference in the mid-term election. This website has recently received national news coverage discribing its work in California.
Use the link above to reach the Poor Peoples Campaign. This group is reviving the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign. A well known leader is the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, a black minister and civil rights leader from North Carolina, and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, a white theologian originally from Milwaukee. <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/03/us/martin-luther-king-poor.html>
Their website says, “We are building a movement for equity and justice. All across the country, our fellows will be soldiers in the army to fight mass incarceration, voter suppression and urban gun violence.”
Let America Vote
Let America Vote says, “We have a voting problem in America. Voting in our country has never been easy, but there’s a new challenge: Politicians are now trying to stop Americans from voting because of who they are likely voting for in an election. Extreme voter suppression laws that disproportionally impact people based on their race or ethnicity, gender, age, or income have started popping up all over the country, and if we don’t fight back, more and more Americans will become disenfranchised.”
This is what the Town Hall Project says about itself, “Town Hall Project empowers constituents across the country to have face-to-face conversations with their elected representatives. We are campaign veterans and first time volunteers. We come from a diversity of backgrounds and live across the country. We share progressive values and believe strongly in civic engagement. We research every district and state for public events with members of Congress. Then we share our findings to promote participation in the democratic process.” From <https://townhallproject.com/>
Head Count says that it “…stage[s] voter registration drives at concerts and run programs that translate the power of music into real action. By reaching young people and music fans where they already are – at concerts and online – we make civic participation easy and fun. To get a real sense of who we are, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. From <https://www.headcount.org/about-headcount/>
National Democratic Redistricting Committee describes itself this way: “Chaired by former Attorney General Eric Holder, NDRC is the first-ever strategic hub for redistricting focused on winning targeted elections, advancing legal action, and building up the political infrastructure to achieve a fairer redistricting process.” They contend that Republican gerrymandered districts after the 2010 Census have put Democrats at a massive structural disadvantage. That’s why the most important turning point for the future of the Democratic Party will take place in 2021: when states redraw their Congressional and state legislative lines. Fairness requires acknowledging that Democrat’s have used Redistricting to their advantage.
“America Votes is the coordination hub of the progressive community, working with over 400 state and national partner organizations to advance progressive policies, win elections, and protect every American’s right to vote.” From <https://americavotes.org/about/>
IF YOU ARE TEMPTED TO BE DISCOURAGED, REMEMBER WE ARE NOT ALONE!
Here is the link to an article in Mashable https://mashable.com/2018/07/05/voter-activation-groups-elections/#qYHny4tfvkqB that prompted my remembering.