Equal Ground August Newsletter
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FLORIDA BLACK POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT CALL
On Juneteenth, we launched our monthly Black Political Empowerment call. Our calls have featured speaker was Mr. Leon Russell, Chairman of the board for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Andrew Spar, President of the Florida Education Association. During the call, participants received updates about issues impacting Black people in the state of Florida and received information and tools to help improve our community. The August speaker will be announced soon. The next call will be Monday, August 21st. Please click HERE to RSVP. The Saturday after our Black Political Empowerment call, we need your help to make sure our community is aware of the changes in our voting laws and is prepared for the 2023-2024 election cycle! Due to a new Florida law regarding mail-in voting, all voters who had a vote-by-mail request on file before the Nov. 2022 midterm elections must file a new request if they wish to vote by mail in upcoming elections. Voters will have to request their mail ballots each general election cycle moving forward. Help us re-enroll Black Floridians for Vote by Mail. CLICK HERE to register.
PROTECTING BLACK HISTORY
On Monday, July 19th the Florida State Board of Education met to adopt new social studies standards for the upcoming school year. During the meeting, our Political Director read a letter from a coalition of organizations that wrote to express opposition to the standards. Our concern derived from the omission and rewriting of key historical facts about the Black experience and the refusal to adhere to the legislative intent of Florida Statute 1003.42. This statute was adopted in 1994 when a coalition of educators, parents, students, elected officials, and community leaders rallied to demand reforms that led to Rep. Rudolph Bradley and State Senator Jim Hargrett introducing legislation that mandated the teaching of Black History. Given the recent attacks on Black History by Gov. DeSantis and his administration, it is vital that we play an active role in using our voice to advocate for our scholars to learn an unbiased accounting of our history and contributions to the world. Unfortunately, the standards that were passed by the State Board of Education whitewash our history and completely ignore the legislative intent of 1003.42. Click HERE to read the newly adopted social study standards that will be taught in our public schools. Click HERE to read the letter we sent in opposition to the standards. After hearing about the adoption of new standards, Vice President Harris traveled to Florida to meet with community leaders and deliver a speech in Jacksonville. During her speech, she spoke out against Florida’s new education standards and empowered us to continue to speak truth to power by calling out these whitewashed standards and all who support them. During the Vice President's visit, our Founder, Jasmine Burney-Clark was invited to join the Vice President and other state leaders for a discussion about how we can move forward and ensure our history is valued and included in the history of this country.
Join the Florida Redistricting coalition to learn about litigation challenging Congressional maps approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor DeSantis. To learn more text "FairDistricts" to 52886 or CLICK HERE to RSVP.
EG IN THE PANHANDLE
On Saturday, August 5th, the Northwest Florida Panhandle Coalition for Civic Engagement in partnership with Equal Ground hosted a Legislative Debrief. Participants had an opportunity to get updates on legislative session, hear from community leaders, and discover ways to stay engaged and fight for the issues that matter to our community.
HELP OTHERS REGISTER TO VOTE
In light of SB7050 and its potential chilling effect on community-based voter registration, I am pleased to share with you a new resource developed by Common Cause Florida that lays out what private citizens can (and cannot) do if they want to help their friends, family, and neighbors register to vote. How Floridians Can Help Each Other Register to Vote This guide is currently live online complete with pdf printable flyers and factsheets, and a printed version of the guide will be available later this summer. You can find the guide on our website at https://www.commoncause.org/florida/resource/voter-registration-resources/ Please note, this guide is NOT for third-party voter registration organizations. It is also not legal advice. It is for information and education purposes for private citizens.
Earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court accepted a request by abortion providers to hear arguments in their case against House Bill 5 (HB 5), a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy that threatens to put doctors in jail for providing essential care beyond that point. While providers’ request for the court to hear arguments in the case was granted, the justices declined to immediately block HB 5 while the lawsuit proceeds, leaving the ban in place for now. The hearing will begin on September 8th. You can follow Planned Parenthood for updates.
PEOPLE'S FIRST REPORT CARD
Following legislative session, the flurry of bills signed into law can often be overwhelming, and accountability gets lost to the speed of the news cycle. The People First Report Card is a resource that bridges understanding of the most consequential bills and how lawmakers voted: for everyday people or for special interests. Did your FL lawmaker vote to put people first…or powerful special interests? Find out here: www.FloridaReportCard.com #PeopleFirst Below is a list of some lawmakers who received a 100% score. CLICK HERE to view your legislator's score. ELECTION 2023
While there are no statewide elections this year, many counties and municipalities will have elections. Check with your supervisor of Elections office to see if there is an election in your county. Primary Election Day is Tuesday, August 20, 2023.
REPEAL HB 543
Last month, Equal Ground joined a coalition of faith and community leaders calling for the state of Florida to repeal HB 543. Rev. R. B. Holmes convened the coalition in response to the danger the law proposes. Below is the statement we wrote in support of this initiative. "The purchase and concealment of a gun should not be easier than the ability to vote. Equal Ground stands with the coalition of faith leaders and community organizations calling for the repeal of HB 543. Given the pain and havoc gun violence has caused so many, it is imperative that we do everything we can to make our communities safer. Removing the requirement of training, background checks, and licenses for those wishing to conceal carry moves us further away from that goal. We call on Governor DeSantis to convene a special session so he and the Legislature can fix the problem they have created."
Black August is a month dedicated to paying homage to fallen Black revolutionaries, incarcerated freedom fighters, and Black resistance, historical and ongoing. It celebrates the history of resistance in the U.S. not as an isolated moment during the Black Power Revolution but as a thread connected to the rebellions of enslaved Black people in the Americas. Black August is an invitation to reflect on the history of the Black freedom struggle, to celebrate those who have come and gone before us, and to commit to continuing this fight for justice and liberation until we win. We invite you to use this month as an opportunity to remember, reflect, learn, and unlearn. CLICK HERE to learn more.
BIDGEN BLACK ENGAGEMENT
Building Back Together advances the policy agenda of the Biden-Harris Administration and communicates the positive impacts of these critical policies to the American people. HERE you will find a copy of the Black Engagement Newsletter, which includes the latest talking points, news, and fact sheets to highlight Black organizations and leaders who are helping us amplify the important work of the Biden-Harris Administration.
Black people deserve to be listened to, not spoken about or spoken for. That's why Black Futures Lab has launched the Black Census Project, the largest national survey of Black people conducted in the United States in 157 years! For far too long, Black communities have been left out of the conversation. We're taking the Black Census everywhere Black people get left behind - rural and urban and suburban, U.S.-born and immigrant, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ, cisgender and gender non-conforming, disabled, young and seasoned, and more - we're looking for you! The data gathered from the Black Census is anonymous and will be used to inform public policies and identify priority issues that represent Black communities. These priorities will help us make decisions about who we show up for at the polls and what we demand from them - which is why your voice has never been more important. CLICK HERE to take the Black Census.
VOLUNTEER WITH USWith the many changes to Florida Election laws. We need help spreading the word to our community. Please CLICK HERE to explore volunteer opportunities to keep our community informed.
To watch full coverage of legislative session including committee meetings and floor debates, visit https://thefloridachannel.org/.
To learn more about the Florida Senate, find your Senator, and locate senate bills, please visit www.flsenate.gov.
To learn more about the Florida House of Representatives, find your representative and locate house bills, please visit www.myfloridahouse.gov.
Remember to visit your county’s Supervisor of Elections office to find what district you live in.
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