FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 15, 2022
WASHINGTON — This Juneteenth, the Alliance for Youth Action—a multiracial network focused on building youth power across the country— is centering the youth organizers across the country who continue to fight for equal justice and liberation for Black people. Now recognized as a federal holiday, we must do more in keeping the legacy of Juneteenth alive. There is still work to be done to ensure that all Black people in the United States are seen in their full humanity and treated as such.
Here is how Alliance Network organizations are fighting for Black liberation every day:
Restoration of Voting Rights
Chicago Votes has been leading some of the most revolutionary voting rights through their Unlock Civics program. In 2019, they wrote and passed landmark legislation – the Voting in Jails bill – that expanded voting access for incarcerated citizens who are eligible to vote. This made Cook County Jail the first jail in the country to become an official polling location allowing for 1,500 people in pretrial detention to vote. Now, they are organizing to pass new legislation that would restore voting rights to people in prison.
Next Up is organizing to pass legislation to restore voting rights to Oregonians in prison. This bill would not only restore voting rights, it would also address the disproportionate silencing of the voices of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx citizens due to their higher rates of imprisonment.
Washington Bus organized to help pass legislation that would immediately restore the right to vote for 26,000 Washingtonians who are convicted of a felony and released from jail, removing complicated and expensive barriers for returning citizens.
Getting Cops out of Schools
Since their founding in 2018, Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) has been at the forefront of the fight to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in their community by fighting to remove the presence of police at Milwaukee Public Schools. They have blocked TSA-style metal detectors from schools and decreased police presence in and around schools.
In 2020, after years of organizing, public pressure, and over 1,000 testimonies, the Milwaukee Public School Board unanimously passed a resolution to end all contracts between the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Public Schools! Thanks to LIT’s tireless work, Milwaukee Public Schools are on a pathway to building safer schools where the voices and experiences of young people are centered.
Now, LIT is calling for Wisconsin universities to divest from policing on campuses and reinvest those funds to support BIPOC communities and students in their Dare to Divest campaign. LIT staff recently went to the capitol to provide testimonies to vote ‘no’ on a bill that would give the state grounds to put armed police back in public schools, an issue LIT fought for and successfully won in Milwaukee in 2020.
The Virginia Student Power Network is demanding the immediate dissolution and abolition of the Virginia Commonwealth University police department. They are also calling on the university system to re-allocate those funds to directly support Black and Brown students on campus and increasing support for University Counseling Services. In May of 2021, they took direct action across the state and dropped banners on campuses calling for cops off campus.
Affordable Housing for Black Families
Minnesota Youth Collective is part of the Minneapolis United for Rent Control coalition building a movement for strong rent control, mobilizing to council meetings, and community events. After the rent control ballot measure passed last November, the coalition is fighting for policies that reflects the needs of the majority-renter population in the city. With inflation at 8%, working-class people face a real choice between paying sky-rocketing rents with wages that aren’t keeping up with inflation, moving out of their communities, or losing their homes. Forty-five percent of renters in the metro area have become cost burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing. As a result of systemic racism, the homeownership gap between white people in Minnesota and people of color is the fourth-highest in the nation.
Divesting from Policing and Holding Police Accountable
Ohio Student Association (OSA) worked in coalition to canvass, host educational events, and collect signatures to pass the Citizens for a Safer Cleveland ballot initiative and won this last November. This initiative would ensure independent civilian oversight of investigations into police misconduct and give final authority on discipline decisions to a board of community leaders. They’ve submitted over 14,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot!
New Hampshire Youth Movement is supporting the efforts of local Black Lives Matter chapters to defund the police and reinvest that money in local communities across the state. In 2020, they hosted trainings for young people to learn how they can support this work in Manchester, Keene, and Dover by focusing on city council budgets and ballot initiatives. New Hampshire Youth Movement also hosted letter writing workshops for young people to write to their local leaders about reinvesting resources away from police departments and into community services and health initiatives. This year, they launched “D.A.R.E” – the Don’t Alter Real Education program – to combat critical race theory and other banned topics in New Hampshire schools.
Poder in Action has been holding the police in in Arizona accountable for their violence against community members. In 2019, they conducted a report asking community members about their experiences with the police and found experiences of profiling, mistreatment, and distrust. Poder in Action is currently fighting to block additional city funds from being allocated to the police.
If you are interested in speaking with Executive Director Dakota Hall and youth organizers in the Alliance Network about their fight for Black liberation and work to dismantle white supremacy, please reach out to Carmel Pryor (firstname.lastname@example.org).