All posts in Social Justice
We would like to recognize and congratulate our grant recipient, Oakland Rising for its voter engagement and mobilization efforts over the past year which culminated in big wins for Oakland, the larger Bay Area community, and California. Oakland Rising is a multilingual, multiracial collaborative building on Oakland’s rich history to advance smart, community-first solutions for a thriving city. Oakland Risings voter engagement victories this year included:
- Reaching 25,252 low-income, immigrant, and voters of color living in Oakland’s flatlands during their fall campaign alone
- Identifying 19,544 Oaklanders who support progressive tax policies to bring back public funding for schools and programs also during their fall campaign
- Providing 80 jobs for low-income, under-employed, or previously incarcerated residents through their paid “Daily Team” canvassing position
- Mobilizing 375 community volunteers to do precinct walks and GOTV
- Passing Proposition 30 as part of California Calls to safeguard funding for public schools by raising taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Californians
- Defeating Proposition 32 to ensure that big money interests will NOT silence the voices of workers and Unions in our political system
We salute Oakland Rising for its many achievements in 2012 and look forward to a new year of work ahead in the effort to bring about a more just, sustainable, and prosperous Oakland for all!
Photo courtesy of Oakland Rising
Our grant recipient, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law yesterday released a preliminary report of its findings from Election Protection 2012 to Congress urging them to take action to fix the persistent problems in our election system that make it difficult for many Americans to vote. The long lines endured by many voters this year were a problem, amongst several others that demonstrated the inadequacies of the election system. As the Lawyers’ Committee points out: “If we truly want an election infrastructure that lives up to the ideals of our democracy then we need to fix a lot of things.” Here are their suggestions: (more…)
We would like to congratulate our grant recipient Youth Radio for being awarded this week with the White House’s National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award! This prestigious award is the nation’s highest honor and was given by First Lady Michelle Obama to only 12 community-based arts and humanities organizations across the country. First Lady Michelle Obama stated: “The 2012 awardees demonstrate the power that comes from young people realizing their creative promise. These outstanding organizations from across the country inspire our youth to explore the world of possibility that awaits them, and they are gaining critical skills that translate into every other aspect of their lives.”
Youth Radio’s work has made a significant impact in the lives of many young people over the past two decades by improving academic scores and graduation rates, enhancing life skills, helping youth express themselves creatively, and develop positive relationships with peers and adults. Kudos to Youth Radio for their outstanding achievement as they make Oakland proud!
Photo: Youth Radio Producer Nishat Kurwa and Student Shyra Gums with First Lady Michelle Obama.
A new survey conducted by the Penn Schoen Berland National Post-Election poll reveals that the majority of Americans would like to see national standards for how people vote, including what hours polls are open, who is eligible to vote, and the type of ballot used. MacArthur Foundation President Robert Gallucci makes the point: “On the heels of an election that required some Americans to endure a long line to cast their vote and others to face confusing new requirements, the message from this poll is clear. Our democracy and our electorate deserve better rules and procedures for efficiently administering federal elections.” (more…)
Poll results say this election is too close to call and results will not come in for several more hours… but, we are already winning.
Groups from around the Bay have for months now been engaged in deep coordinated voter engagement work, from creating voter guides to forming paid and volunteer phone bank and field teams, reaching tens of thousands Oakland and San Francisco residents. [more on Oakland Rising and San Francisco Rising]
Because of this, we are already winning …
And, for that, we thank those individuals who hold the participation of those around them to be as important as their own.
We thank those organizations that are, to their communities, the place to learn and come together, that work to transform people’s own relationship to the governance of their communities and society, that center those on the margins.
The fight against voter suppression and harassment became personal this past Tuesday, when my niece, a 19 year old college student in North Carolina, was challenged at her polling site by a “very nasty” electioneer – NOT an official poll worker but an “observer” – who demanded to know if she was old enough to vote, and then handed my niece a slate of opposition candidates. Knowing her rights, my niece held to the Aries fire that she shares with her grandmother and rebuffed the “poll monitor,” proudly casting her first vote in a presidential election.
Another victory against voter suppression was won last week in Ohio and Wisconsin as voting rights groups, including our grant partners, The Lawyers’ Committee and ColorofChange.org pushed communications conglomerate, Clear Channel to remove over 100 billboards in mostly Black and Latino neighborhoods which they say were designed to intimidate voters. The billboards read “VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY!” and warned that it can lead to prison sentences of up to three and a half years and a $10,000 fine. As ColorofChange.org points out: “In no small part because voters are more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit fraud at the polls, the billboards were widely viewed as an effort to intimidate minority voters who are uncertain about their rights from voting.”
Oakland housing rights advocates, including our grant partner, Causa Justa :: Just Cause had cause to celebrate recently as Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Congressperson Barbara Lee, State Assemblyperson Nancy Skinner and community members held a press conference in support of a Comprehensive Foreclosure Prevention Package. The plan which was approved by the Oakland City Council on October 16th will provide a new means by which tenants and homeowners can receive foreclosure assistance. The package includes:
- Door to door outreach to roughly 3,500 residents in risk of foreclosure
- Referrals to housing counselors and access to legal assistance and a city team that will help advocate on behalf of borrowers to the bank
- Tenant and homeowner rights trainings
- A pilot program called ROOT that will buy back homes for borrowers facing foreclosure and restructure the loans to be fixed rate and affordable
Over the past two years, we have seen restrictive voter ID legislation introduced in states across the nation that could make it harder for voters to cast a ballot. Some of these laws have been successful in being passed while others have been halted, thanks to the efforts of voting rights advocates, citizens who voted against restrictive legislation, and courts who overturned or blocked such laws. Our grant partners, The Brennan Center for Justice recently published a clear analysis and mapping of states, showing where these laws have passed, where they were blocked, and where they are in effect for the 2012 election. Some of the findings revealed:
Black men are heavy users of mobile technology, so why are they not pursuing careers in this field? This is the question that researchers at Pennsylvania State are investigating with a grant they received from the National Science Foundation as reported by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. Lynette Kvasny and Eileen Trauth, both professors of information sciences and technology at Penn State are conducting interviews with Black men on the path toward careers in Information Technology in order to determine which factors encouraged them to make this decision. Dr. Kvasny presents a compelling question: “There’s so much technology in their world, but why do so few Black men make a connection between being a user of technology and making a career out of it?”