This Social Movement Fights to Create Political Change in Black Communities

Rather than promote a single party or candidate, the Electoral Justice Project seeks to continue the legacy of past social movements that fought for the rights of African-Americans.

Nov 6 2017, 4:30pm

Image via Movement for Black Lives.

This is an opinion piece by Kayla Reed, a community organizer with the Ferguson Action Council in St. Louis, and a member of the Movement for Black Lives leadership team.

Much of the public conversation this week will focus on the fact that it has been a full year since "45" was elected. To some, the year has flown by. But to those who have been victims of the explicit white supremacy and hatred running the nation, it feels like forever. The election of "45" suprised some; not many saw it coming and knew what would unfold. I remember that gut punching feeling in my stomach when I realized he won the election. I remember thinking of all the communities that would suffer under his administration. I remember going to bed and wishing that it was just a bad dream. When I woke up the next morning,I knew that we had to work harder than ever before to combat white supremacy.

At a scale unlike anything many of us have seen in our lifetime, we are witnessing a re-emergence of unabashed racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia and blatant anti-blackness from this administration. Black soldiers are being disrespected after giving their very lives for this country. Black women -- from Jemele Hill to Congresswoman Fredrica Wilson -- are being attacked left and right. The rights of the most vulnerable in our communities - the differently abled, queer and trans folks among them - are quietly being rolled back. Not to be outdone by the executive branch, even Congress is fighting to protect the wealthy; leaving working class Americans struggling to survive.

In response to this though, our movement has grown.

Upon electing this braggadocious and misogynistic human into power, it is no coincidence that millions took to the streets to affirm women's agency and to march for and in solidarity with women everywhere. It is surely no coincidence that people showed up to airports by the millions to protest the Muslim ban 1.0, and what's more, to flood Senate call lines in opposition to DACA's repeal. But let's not forget, the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings of 2014 serve as the energetic foundation for these types of protests.

We are committed to using every tool at our disposal to transform our communities.

While the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) was born out of black resilience across centuries, there is no doubt that current-day black resistance gives the masses inspiration to fight another day. M4BL will continue to lead the fight for justice, and in line with this, we are expanding to include principled, movement-led electoral work in our fight.

This is why we are launching the Electoral Justice Project.

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The Electoral Justice Project (EJP) seeks to continue a long legacy of black social movements fighting for the advancement of the rights of black folks through an electoral strategy. We are standing on the shoulders of giants who fought for our rights to use elections as a means for progress. EJP would not be possible without phenomenal women like Fannie Lou Hamer and Shirley Chisholm; without organizations and organizers - like SNCC, like the early and mid-century NAACP - that risked their lives to fight for our rights. We are ever grateful that they spent many Novembers mobilizing their communities to the polls.

It is out of that tradition that EJP and #BlackNovember was born.

Like those before us, we know that voting alone will not free us. But we are committed to using every tool at our disposal to transform our communities. So, though important, EJP is not about just about getting black people to vote. We are a capacity building project and we deeply believe that by investing in long-term engagement and education, we can transform our communities.

EJP does not pledge allegiance to the any party or candidate. Our allegiance is to the growth and development of black people and black-led organizations. We know that there is already beautiful black electoral work happening in our communities. We have seen activists and organizers lead historic campaigns from St. Louis, to Chicago to Jackson, and many unsung cities in between. We only seek to amplify that work and give assistance where it is needed. We want to educate and build a team of organizers who are available to help our people whenever and where they need it.

This November, we are partnering with black-led organizations in every corner of the country to host town halls. Each is providing a focused conversation about how the current political landscape impacts us and our communities, and maybe more importantly, how we can respond. The Electoral Justice town halls are spaces to both analyze policies and strategize to win for our communities.

By investing in long-term engagement and education, we can transform our communities.

So, join us find the town hall closest to you If you want to host a town hall during #BlackNovember, sign up now.

The Electoral Justice Project is here to silence the noise and give our people the information and resources they need and deserve. We will build from this #BlackNovember to the the next and we will win.