Categories
Analysis Democracy: Rule of Law & Elections Organizing Social Justice

Watch: Forum on Voting Rights with Penda Hair & Dayna Cunningham

On Sunday, November 14th, Voices for New Democracy hosted our monthly political forum on the importance of voting rights, the ongoing assault against them, and key insights for today’s Left as we work to build a more democratic country.

Moderated by civil rights lawyer and new Dean at Tufts University Dayna Cunningham, the discussion was led by longtime voting rights lawyer, Senior Counsel at Forward Justice, and national leader in the fight for voting rights Penda Hair. Throughout the wide-ranging conversation, Penda provided an important historical view of voting rights in the 20th century (including the Voting Rights Act of 1965) and highlighted the intimate links between voting rights and racial justice. She also gave an important update on the latest right-wing efforts to restrict voting rights, including SCOTUS rulings undermining the strength of the Voting Rights Act, redistricting and gerrymandering efforts aimed at securing Republican minority rule, and the dire implications these trends have for the Left, including in the 2022 election cycle. We also discussed signs of hope, understanding that the forces of reaction have been triggered by the real progress and momentum that the Left has made around the issue, and highlighted several promising bills in Congress that could strengthen our democratic rights.

Watch the full conversation below.

Categories
Democracy: Rule of Law & Elections

Join us November 14th: Forum on Voting Rights with Penda Hair

This Sunday, November 14th, join Voices for New Democracy for our next monthly political forum discussing voting rights with civil rights lawyer Penda Hair.

The forum will be held on Sunday, November 14th, at 4pm PT / 7pm ET. Join the conversation at bit.ly/3b1xlp7.

Penda Hair is the Legal Director for Forward Justice, a law, policy, and strategy center dedicated to advancing racial, social, and economic justice in the U.S. South. A graduate of Harvard Law School and former director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, she also co-founded the Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization committed to building a just and anti-racist democracy. Under her direction, the Advancement Project spearheaded legal challenges to voting restrictions across the country, including a fight against the disenfranchisement of Black voters in Florida during the 2000 election. She has also led more recent campaigns for the restoration of voting rights for people with felony convictions, and against voter ID restrictions and other discriminatory voter suppression tactics.

The forum will be moderated by Dayna Cunningham, civil rights attorney, founder and executive director of the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) at MIT, and Dean of the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University.

Categories
Analysis Democracy: Rule of Law & Elections Organizing Social Justice

Political Possibilites in the South & Sun Belt

| Matt Perrenod |

In the wake of the 2020 election cycle, there has been renewed attention among progressive electoral activists to Sun Belt states where people of color are a large part of the electorate in a region that for several decades has been dominated by conservative whites.  The Biden electoral victory resulted not just from his winning three northern states Trump won in 2016 (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin), but also from victories in Georgia and Arizona, where Democratic candidates were unsuccessful for decades.  Similarly, the narrow Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate arguably rests on Georgia and Arizona, where Dems flipped four seats in 2018 and 2020.  There has also been significant attention given to North Carolina and Florida, where the GOP eked out a series of narrow victories in the 2018/20 electoral cycles, and Dems won the NC governor’s race.  Dems now control the state government in Virginia, as well as a majority of that state’s Congressional delegation.  A coalition of Hispanic, Native American and progressive white voters have delivered Dem majorities in New Mexico for several cycles.

Through much of the South and Southwest, however, the GOP retains an electoral majority, and progressives have been working on how to extend the successful experience in states like Georgia and Arizona to other areas.  Major states like Texas have drawn the attention of progressives for several cycles, but remain locked in the hands of the GOP. Stronger candidates have come forward in places like Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Alabama, but all of these states continue to be dominated by the right, despite large African-American populations.  With few exceptions, Republicans dominate the border states of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia as well.

The South and Southwest have become centers of demographic diversification in the U.S.  Much of the growth in Latinx voters has been in the region, and AAPI communities have become a major component of urban centers like Houston and Atlanta.  The region remains the largest concentration of African-Americans in the country.  Given this, we ought to continue to look closely at the opportunities for progressive political power in this region, while acknowledging that demographics doesn’t automatically confer success.  Rather, we should be asking, and acting upon what it will take. I believe the successes in Georgia and Arizona point to the importance of prolonged grassroots organizing to breaking the conservative white lock on the Sun Belt.  For this reason, I hope to post occasionally on the intersection of grassroots and electoral organizing in my native region, and highlight emerging examples of how these movements are striving for political power.  I will look to both electoral contests as well as community campaigns, help amplify regional voices, and try to identify the lessons as they’re being tested and learned.  And I would like to hear from others living and working in the region, and your perspectives on the current situation.  Please comment on my posts, and feel free to email me directly at mperrenod@gmail.com.