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On the heels of a major attack on democracy in Tennessee this week and the rise in anti-democratic legislation across the South, Alabama Values, partnering with The Southern Leadership for Voter Engagement (SOLVE)  Spotlight PR and Groundwork Project, has launched an initiative to combat the collective attacks on freedom and democracy happening across the South and connect community issues to people’s front door. 

Attacks on democracy are not new to Alabama or the South. Just this week, two black Democratic lawmakers were expelled from the Republican-controlled Tennessee House of Representatives, while another white female lawmaker was allowed to stay after they rallied for gun control after a deadly school shooting in Nashville. 

There has been an uptick in legislation including making voting less accessible, drawing district lines that violate the Voting Rights Act, passing the country’s most stringent abortion ban, allocating billions of dollars for new prisons without addressing prison reform and passing discriminatory bills against transgender children. 

The Democracy Under Attack initiative will consist of in-person and virtual events, public briefings, training and workshops to educate, engage and mobilize communities around issues and solutions. 

“​​It is no secret that democracy and freedom are under attack around the world, particularly in the South. It is important to recognize that democracy is not a passive endeavor,” said AV Executive Director Anneshia Hardy. “It requires active participation and engagement from all of us. The first step in protecting democracy is to educate ourselves about the issues at hand. This means staying informed about current events and being aware of the ways in which our freedoms are being threatened. We hope this initiative will create entry points for citizens to get involved in the efforts to bring the change they want to see in their communities.”

Advocacy and media organizations are joining Alabama Values to help counter these attacks on democracy. 

These organizations have a long-standing history and play a critical role in supporting a wide array of fights for freedom and democracy. 

The Groundwork Project, founded by former Congressman Joe Kennedy, in an effort to provide support for local community organizers in states from the Deep South to Appalachia and the Plains where grassroots work around pro-democracy have typically been written off or underfunded. 

Spotlight PR, founded by Jennifer Farmer, a social justice public relations firm that works with grassroots leaders and advocates for racial and social justice. Farmer is an award-winning writer, author, trainer Her work has appeared in publications such as Thrive Global!, Blavity, Society for Nonprofits, Chronicle of Philanthropy, CNN, The Root, HuffPost, LifeHack, PR Daily, Red Letter Christians and more.

SOLVE, a network of civic and advocacy organizations  working collaboratively across the south to stand against repressive voting practices and to educate the public around voting 

“I fundamentally believe that collective attacks on our democracy should be countered with collective fights to organize and galvanize communities around civic engagement,” said Jordan Davis, interim networks director for voting rights at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “The Democracy Under Attack initiative will produce monumental benefits that will last for years to come. I am looking forward to uplifting the unsung heroes in this work and providing a space for voting rights advocates to engage in proactive defense to undemocratic practices.” 

 

The first event under the initiative will be held April 11 at 6 p.m. The title of the event is Democracy Under Attack: As Goes The South, So Goes The Nation. 

During the event, panelists will take a deep dive into attacks on voting rights, LGBTQ+ communities, Medicaid Expansion, reproductive health care, and other attacks they are seeing in their legislatures. Across the South, there are a lot of similarities in bills being introduced and passed that attack marginalized communities. 

The South has been ground zero for many of the anti-democratic policies we’re battling with around the nation. Tune in for an unapologetic conversation with advocates regarding unfair practices and policies and directly-impacted communities.

Speakers will include: 

“We will never get to the point where we can shift into cruise control. That is not what our ancestors fought for — this moment requires no less than to hold the line on what they fought for and to continue to position future generations for success,” Shelton said.

Ramachandran agreed. 

“Those who wish to take us back to the dark ages are investing so many resources into achieving their goals. It’s a long term strategy,” Ramachandran said. “We have to shine the light on their true intentions every step of the way and continue to invest in the democracy we want.” 

“While North Carolina voters are no strangers to distorted districts and voter suppression ahead of high-profile presidential elections, unlike prior years, a newly-conservative state supreme court, now in lockstep with an anti-voter legislature, will not save us,” Jones said. “Instead, it will be up to the state’s “fourth branch” of government — the people, public interest and the press — to inform, inspire, and mobilize for the reforms and resistance we’ll need to make our voices heard in the free and fair elections we deserve.”

You can watch it on Youtube Live and Facebook Live

 

 

 

 

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