This past Saturday was the Juneteenth Celebration in Winston-Salem, a time in which community members celebrate the African American spirit and pay tribute to the roles and contributions which have enriched our society. It is a celebration that is the longest-running observance of the abolition of slavery, commemorating the day in which the last few slaves learned of their freedom in 1869 in Texas.
At this event, state Rep Larry Womble, a long-time advocate for the Racial Justice Act, spoke of the good work that people like Linda Sutton had been doing. After his speech, Tyshia and I were able to shake his hand and say a word. When I told him that I was working with Linda Sutton, he gave me this look of approval that made all the tireless hours I had been standing talking to people about signing our petitions and registering to vote seem like only the beginning. We probably talked to over 300 people in that building and obtained a little over 190 signatures against Citizens United, a huge step in our efforts with City Council. It was there that we met Kim Porter, an organizer with Occupy W-S, who has been working towards urging the City Council to pass a resolution against corporate personhood. After discussing the work we had down individually, we formed an alliance of sorts. We’ve set a timeline for our goals, and even began mapping out dates and locations for our Voters’ Truth Tour across the wards.
The majority of our discussions with people have also been about the state legislative session. I’ve constantly been checking the news to make sure that I am up-to-date on the latest on the HAVA Funds, Fracking bill, Racial Justice Act, Voter Suppression bills and Eugenics funds. While speaking in front of one group, Tyshia gave her take on where the budget compromise was headed and whether the Help America Vote Act funding looked promising for our election process this coming November. Despite the disappointment with the Budget that excluded matching money for HAVA, we were able to use our knowledge and ultimately, the frustration, as a way to get people to act. Throughout this process, I have learned how to better “agitate”. It has been about reminding people the state or condition of North Carolina and our nation now, and where it was heading if we decided to do nothing. After all, the motto “Forward Together, Not One Step Back!” is fitting for the fight ahead, guaranteeing a government that is truly “Of, By and For the People”.