|Activist groups rally for change|
|Color of Change holds Black Peopleís Brunch to cultivate political power|
|Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018|
DURHAM – It’s time for a change was the consensus of the more than 350 people who attended the Black People’s Brunch last weekend. The free brunch, held at the Millennium Hotel, was one of several being sponsored across the country by Color of Change to build black political power.
Color of Change is a digital, racial justice organization with more than 1.3 million members nationwide. The group’s organizing director, Enchanta Jackson, of Washington, D.C., said the purpose of the brunch series is to move some of the online presence to offline power.
The group is holding forums to engage African-Americans in political races and elections, and galvanize people around civil rights campaigns.
“Color of Change is trying to mobilize people across the country to take action about causes they care about,” Jackson said, “whether it’s criminal ‘injustice,’ ending money bail which drives mass incarceration, the school-to-prison pipeline or reproductive justice – all of which are intersectional.”
Adding that she doesn’t believe there should be a prison system, Jackson said black people should not be caged. Instead, she said, there should be more community programs and rehabilitative services available.
Jackson said Color of Change is here to work with and support other activist groups. Also at the brunch were representatives of the Durham chapter of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), Southerners on New Ground (S.O.N.G.), SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Advance Carolina, Durham for All, Defend Durham, Harm Free Zone Southern Regional Book Study, and Airolina Young Aviators.
Courtney Sebring, head of the local BYP100, spoke about the organization’s partnership with S.O.N.G. and the end money bail campaign. Sebring said Black Mama’s Bail Out freed 14 women from the Durham County jail on Mother’s Day and another nine women in August.
“Under the system of money bail, people who have not been convicted of any crime are left incarcerated if they cannot afford their bail,” Sebring said. “This means people who are poor don’t have access to their own freedom, and we know that freedom is our birthright. This campaign is coming back in May to bring our family members home and free our people from cages.”
Omisade Burney-Scott, director of strategic partnerships and advocacy for SisterSong, explained the Trust Black Women Partnership, which was started by African-American women who work in reproductive justice.
“Trust black women to know what to do with their bodies, trust black women to know how to raise their children, trust black women whether they are cisgender or trans. Trust us,” Burney-Scott said, adding, “and pay us, pay back now.”
Burney-Scott said SisterSong is working with SpiritHouse, All of Us or None, North Carolina Black Women’s Roundtable, Forward Justice, Be Connected Durham, Action NC, and MomsRising to end the shackling of female inmates.
“The practice and the policy of shackling pregnant and laboring women at the state and municipal level is still happening in North Carolina,” she said. “There are 50 women who are currently pregnant at the state prison right now. They should not be shackled during prenatal care, they should not be shackled during labor and delivery, and they should not be shackled postpartum or when they’re breastfeeding.”
Reminding people that they have to vote twice this year, Marcus Bass, director of Advance Carolina, highlighted some important dates: primary election, May 8; early voting, April 19-May 5; and general election, Nov. 6.
“We have issues that we must stand on and begin to articulate, especially this year in a justice election when they have already determined that the lines on the congressional level are racially gerrymandered, when they’re already talking about the legislative districts drawn with surgical precision to carve out black voters,” Bass said.
“Now, for the first time in 50 years, they’re looking at our judicial maps; they’re looking at the system of courts across the state, the systems that we go through, and they’re determining who enacts justice in those places, in the high benches and in the low seats. So, from the state Supreme Court to the general assembly, all the way down to the district attorney and district judge, we are not stopping.”
Shanise Hamilton, campaign organizer of Durham for All, said the group is launching an initiative to affect the outcome of the elections, particularly the sheriff, district attorney, and state Supreme Court
“We’ve officially entered into the new Jim Crow era, and, let me be clear, this directly affects all of us,” she said. “Laws are being passed that continue to intentionally suppress us as a people. Police brutality is met with a slap on the wrist, and it leaves us as citizens unprotected and feeling like we’re targets. Right now, we have a chance to change that.”
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