Friday, August 1, 2014

Jailed For Justice: Day 4, Dalton

We were super excited to head to Dalton Georgia for our 4th stop on the Jailed For Justice tour for a number of reasons. The organizers of the event had let us know ahead of time that they were really interested in having a focus on immigration reform as Dalton has a very high percentage of Latino’s and many in their active groups our undocumented youth. This was a great opportunity for us to invite Georgia Dreamers, Lucino Gropar and Arturo Martinez, who had been arrested during a protest outside the Georgia Board of Regents meeting earlier this year, an action that was co-sponsored by Moral Monday Georgia.

For those that don’t know undocumented people are banned from attending the top five public universities in Georgia and must pay international tuition at any other publically funded schools in the state. Georgia is one of the few states in the nation that has gone so far to make young immigrants like Lucino and Arturo feel especially unwelcomed to receive an education.

When we showed up to the venue it was brimming with action. There was a whole line of amazing food, an amazingly diverse group of black, white, brown, old, and young people, all excited to be there. Turnout was great thanks to a really great local turnout effort by Dalton organizers.

Lucino, Arturo, and Jackie Rodriguez all gave really heartfelt amazing testimony about their path to civil disobedience which was interrupted multiple times for applause. After the panel we opened it up for Dalton residents to share their experience, talk about what it would take to build a Moral Monday movement in Dalton, and what fights our winnable in the area.

We also asked folks to commit to bringing carloads of folks to the August 23rd Moral March on Georgia.

We closed the evening with a truly powerful candlelight vigil for just immigration reform and all the innocent children being held at our border.

Jailed For Justice Tour: Day Two Riverdale

As I listened to the honorable Rev. Fred Taylor speaking at last night’s Clayton County stop for the Moral Monday Tour I was inspired. It was a perfect match; an iconic leader who has embraced the ideal of being jailed for justice 28 times, addressing a location that is struggling with so many of the injustices Moral Monday has rallied against. When we stepped into Clayton County for the 2nd in a 16 day tour around the state it was not about just sharing out stories. It was not just about hearing of our actions of the past, it was about what we need right now. It was about the problems facing Clayton County and the offering of hope. Hope that when we come together over the issues that are facing our communities we will win because that is what Moral Monday is. It is the hope for a better Georgia and the reality that we can make it happen together.

As we discussed the Moral Monday platform it was clear that it was resonating with the crowd, our platform was built from the struggles that are facing everyday Georgians because that is what we are. We are everyday Georgians who have decided to raise their voices and speak out against the many injustices that are facing our neighborhoods and state. Our stop in Clayton County was just the beginning of a conversation. How can we work together to bring change? Moral Monday could be the answer.

As we move into the rest of the tour I eagerly anticipate the continued stories, struggles, and excitement that has already been shared on the Jailed for Justice Tour. This tour is not just about us telling our stories. It is about building hope, building community, and committing ourselves to making the changes we know the people of Georgia deserve. It is about building a powerful movement and to do that we need to have our voices heard. The Jailed for Justice Tour has given us the opportunity to speak out and have our voices heard, and now it’s your turn. Join us on August 23rdat 10am when people from all over the state converge on the capital to tell our elected officials it is time to put people over politics. Don’t miss this opportunity to raise our voices in unison!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jailed For Justice Tour: Day 3 Henry County

Day three saw us coming to Shiloh Baptist church in Henry County. Big thanks to Shiloh Baptist not only for hosting us but for all the great work they do for struggling families in the area. While we were there we witnessed dozens of families receiving free groceries, back to school supplies and warm meals.

Our crowd was a little smaller but extremely engaged and excited about building the moral movement that Henry County needs. Lorraine Fontana kicked off the tour by talking about her long path from a northern Yankee with a passion for justice, to a southerner willing to go to jail to repeal Georgia’s stand your ground law and again to pressure Governor Deal to expand Medicaid in Georgia. Ron Allen, who joined Lorraine on both trips to jail, also talked about why he was willing to spend a night in jail to shine a spot light on injustice. Neil Sardana, the son of Indian immigrants, never though he would be willing to go to jail, but he shared that his conscious wouldn’t allow him to stand on the sidelines while Governor Deal denied healthcare to 650k Georgians.

One of the most exciting things about our Henry County stop was the willingness of Henry County residents to start of Moral Monday group to begin building infrastructure for change that doesn’t exist there.

Henry County is described as a commuter community, which means folks spend a lot of time driving to and from Atlanta. One struggle folks often have in commuter communities is capacity. The time poverty associated with a daily long commute means less time to get involved in the community, less time to connect with neighbors. One of the problems described by folks is that there are a lot of small groups initiating important projects and talking about great idea, but not a space where folks can come together. Our hoping is that a Moral Monday like coalition to make that space available, that is one of our goals for this tour, to bring groups that could be wielding more power together.

Forward together, as we often say, means our destinies are connected. As at each stop before we ended with a call to join us on August 23rdfor a Moral March on Georgia.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jailed For Justice Tour: Day 1

On Monday we officially kicked  of the Moral Monday Jailed for Justice Tour to a jam packed house at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. The whole event was totally electric. Rev Raphael kicked off the event with a truly rousing talk on the need for a moral movement in the south. Senator Vincent Fort, Minister Karen Reagle, Peggy Casey, Emilia Kaiser, and Keota Jones all shared truly powerful stories about why they made the decision to put their bodies and freedom on the line to shine a light on injustice.
Francys Johnson closed out the night with a call to action for folks to support the tour and come together on August 23rd for a massive Moral March on Georgia. The Moral March on Georgia is part of a southern wide strategy to build power against the extreme, economically insane policies that have seen our wages decreased, taken our jobs, seen our homes foreclosed and rent skyrocketed, our children’s education defunded, young black males criminalized and targeted, and our communities less safe.
 Over the course of the next 16 days we will be bringing Georgians together in 16 cities forge relationships and build the Moral movement Georgia needs.
Another Georgia is possible, a Georgia that prioritizes people of politics and profit. Moral Monday Georgia has a different set of priorities.

Our Priorities

Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that ensure economic sustainability

Provide a well-funded, quality public education for all

Promote healthcare access and environmental sustainability

Address continued inequalities in the criminal justice system

Protect and expand voting rights for all

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Welcome Jackie Rodriguez!

As Moral Monday Georgia prepares to begin the Jailed for Justice Tour, I cannot help but reflect on what an amazing opportunity Moral Monday has been for me so far, and what is to come in the future. Moral Monday changed the way that I looked at my mission in life. You see, I never really considered myself an organizer or an activist. I never gave much thought to labelling what I have always wanted to do. I saw things that were wrong, and I knew I needed to help changed them. In that process, a key component was to excite other people to help change it with me. Joining the AFSC family has meant the platform, training, and support that I needed to pass on that message to others. AFSC is giving me the tools to turn my passion into change.

I have been all over the world but I have found a home in Georgia. This is where my heart lays, this is where my passions have been ignited, and this is where I have decided to take a stand. I will take a stand when the legislator’s attack us, when they fail to protect us, when extremists try to turn us back; I will take a stand because united we will make our home a better place.  From a very young age I have always been taught that we have the power as the people to change what is wrong in the world. If I do nothing else with my life I would be satisfied having passed that feeling and idea of power on to others. The people united will NEVER be defeated and together we will change the world. As long as we know that to be true, and put it into practice, it will be a reality.

 AFSC has made putting that into practice my reality. Joining the staff has given me the platform to bring my ideas and passion to the fight for a new Georgia. So thank you AFSC, for the opportunity to learn, grow, and share my message. Moving forward together, gives us the power to change everything.

To hear more about my story, and why I took decided to take three arrests with Moral Monday, join us on the Jailed for Justice speaking tour. Don’t miss the first stop by RSVP’ing today here.