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On March 14, 2024, Alabama Values, in collaboration with Groundwork Project and Southern Leadership for Voter Engagement, hosted a critical virtual public briefing titled “Democracy Under Attack.” The event focused on the disturbing wave of anti-democratic legislation sweeping through state legislatures across the South, targeting voter rights, diversity, equity, inclusion initiatives, LGBTQ+ rights, and further marginalizing vulnerable communities.

The briefing was moderated by Jamal Watkins, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Advancement at the NAACP, and featured an esteemed panel of advocates and organizers from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Florida. Each speaker shared insights into the coordinated legislative attacks their states are facing and the implications for democracy in the region.

Rhyane Wagner, Senior Policy Manager at Black Voters Matter Fund, emphasized the importance of understanding these legislative efforts as part of a broader strategy to suppress the voices of marginalized communities. Steven Adelson from Civic TN highlighted the grassroots resistance efforts underway in Tennessee, showcasing the power of community organizing in the face of adversity.

Ashley Shelton, Founder and CEO of the Power Coalition in Louisiana, spoke about the need for a unified response to these challenges, emphasizing the interconnected nature of the attacks on democratic principles. Jerome Dees, Policy Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, provided legal perspectives on the implications of these legislative moves and the importance of judicial intervention in safeguarding rights.

Kyra Roby, Policy Director at One Voice Mississippi, discussed the impact of such legislation on the ground in Mississippi and the strategies being employed to counter these threats. The speakers collectively underscored the urgency of the situation and the need for continued vigilance and activism to protect the democratic fabric of the South.

The briefing served as a call to action for media, activists, and concerned citizens to raise awareness, mobilize support, and stand united against the tide of anti-democratic legislation. Alabama Values reaffirmed its commitment to collaborating with civic organizations to build power, break down barriers to civic participation, and utilize narrative, messaging, media, and visual storytelling as key tools for civic engagement and mobilization.

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