What to do this week of October 20, 2019
169 weeks down, 54 weeks to the presidential election.
The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and respect. To stay engaged through challenging times, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration.
I value democracy.
With respect and collaboration, we work to create a nation that welcomes all people, expands freedoms, and upholds the Constitution.
▢ Action 1: Advocate for paid time off for voting on November 5. [h/t Election Day]
Call or write: Your employer.
Script: Many Americans decide not to participate in elections due to the economic hardship of unpaid time off, and state laws vary widely when it comes to getting time off to vote. The private sector can play a role in increasing voter turnout. I invite [COMPANY]’s leadership to allow employees paid time off to vote on Election Day. ElectionDay.org offers great resources to support this process. Thank you for considering this opportunity to support democracy.
▢ Action 2: Support voting access for people with disabilities.
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] because I believe all Americans have the right to participate in our democracy, yet nearly two-thirds of polling places fail to meet accessibility standards, and voter turnout has declined among people with disabilities. The Disability Voting Rights Act would mandate accessible polling places and allow voters with disabilities to vote by mail. Can I count on [NAME] to cosponsor H.R. 1573? Thank you.
▢ Action 3: Ensure that every vote counts in 2020. [h/t National Popular Vote]
If you live in AK, AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NV, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, WV, or WY, Call: Your two state legislators (look up).
Script: Hi, I live in [ZIP] and I’m calling because I believe every vote in the 2020 Presidential election should count, not just the votes in a few so-called battleground states. If enough states join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), the candidate who receives the most votes across all 50 states would be guaranteed to win the Electoral College. Can I count on [NAME] to advocate for [STATE] being the next state to join the NPVIC?
If you live in CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NM, NY, OR, RI, VT, or WA, your state is already a member of the NPVIC. Donate to National Popular vote here to support their work nationwide.
I value equality.
Support the dignity of your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.
▢ Action 4: Promote accurate education about Thanksgiving. [h/t National Museum of the American Indian]
Contact: Your local board of education (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m a resident of [DISTRICT] (if applicable: and my child(ren) attend(s) school in [DISTRICT]). As the holidays approach, I ask that [DISTRICT] rethink all Thanksgiving-related curricula so that students understand the real historical relationship between European colonists and Native Americans, hear Native perspectives, and learn about contemporary Native American cultures and issues. Excellent lesson plans and teacher resources are available from The Center for Racial Justice in Education and the Archaeology Education Clearinghouse. Thank you.
Bonus: Learn about the indigenous history of the land where you live.
▢ Action 5: Donate to support free legal and social services to detainees in Arizona. [h/t Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project]
More and more families seeking asylum are being separated at the U.S. border, and with no public defender system for asylum-seekers and aspiring Americans, both children and adults could be forced to go to immigration court alone. The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project provides free-of-charge legal and social services to detained adults and unaccompanied children facing deportation proceedings in Arizona and served over 10,000 individuals last year alone. Donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar until the group reaches its goal of $1,000,000.
Donate: To the Million Dollar Match for Migrants here.
▢ Action 6: Demonstrate solidarity with women impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. [h/t Vanita Gupta]
Write: Senator Mitch McConnell, 601 W. Broadway, Room 630, Louisville, KY 40202
Script: I’m writing in deep frustration that the Senate still has not acted on the Violence Against Women Act, lapsed now for more than a year. For decades, VAWA programs have dramatically improved federal, tribal, state, and local responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.The House voted to re-authorize the Act in April. I insist that you bring H.R.1585 to the floor for an immediate vote.
▢ Action 7: Advocate for a fair and reliable immigration court system. [h/t AILA]
Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to express my concern about the current administration’s efforts to decertify the National Association of Immigration Judges. Immigration workers are already facing unreasonable workloads, quotas, and efficiency expectations, and the judges’ union has long argued that they should be a separate entity from the Department of Justice. I would like [NAME] to support Article I court reform, and advocate for independent immigration courts not associated with the DoJ.
▢ Action 8: Advocate for your hungry neighbors by Dec. 2. [h/t Food Research and Action Center]
Tell the Department of Agriculture (again) that you support the SNAP program, this time by voicing opposition to a standard, national formula for factoring utility costs into benefit eligibility, rather than continuing to let states use actual costs.
Submit a comment: On the Federal Register, using these tips: 1. Introduce yourself, 2. State why you oppose the rule change based on your values, and, if applicable, 3. Share experiences with SNAP or hunger. Review this article and/or cite SNAP strengths to personalize the points below. To be counted, comments must be unique and individual, not scripted.
- An estimated 19 percent of SNAP households would experience a reduction in benefits.
- The cuts would mostly impact northern states due to the change in the way heating costs are calculated.
- Elderly people and people with disabilities would be disproportionately affected.
▢ Action 9: Advocate for access to reproductive health services. [h/t MomsRising]
Call: Or write your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] because I believe in reproductive health care for all women. The Hyde Amendment restricts 7.5 million women—more than half of them women of color—from accessing abortion services. I’m asking [NAME] to co-sponsor the EACH Woman Act (H.R 1692/S. 758) to repeal Hyde and provide equal access to abortion regardless of socioeconomic status. (Or thank members who have already co-sponsored.)
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Sesame Workshop President and CEO Jeffrey Dunn for supporting military families. [Share why you appreciate normalizing and supporting the experiences of military families with children.]
Address: 1900 Broadway (One Lincoln Plaza), New York, NY 10023
Thank Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard, for tirelessly advocating for compassion, understanding and empowerment in their son’s memory. [Share why you appreciate efforts that contribute to a more just, caring and inclusive world.]
Address: c/o Matthew Shepard Foundation, 800 18th Street, Suite 301, Denver, CO 80202
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews
- Congress passes the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act, which will award Dr. Christine Darden, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan with Congressional Gold Medals for their contributions to NASA and aeronautics science.
- House approves a bipartisan resolution opposing the withdrawal of American forces in Syria, citing Syrian Kurdish forces’ safety and benefits to U.S. adversaries.
- A federal court rules that the president acted unlawfully when he declared a national emergency in order to fund a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Hundreds of Department of Homeland Security asylum and refugee officers urge a federal appeals court to block the administration’s so-called Migrant Protection Protocols, which virtually ban people from seeking asylum at the southern border.
- Over 266,000 people submit comments to the Federal Register regarding the administration’s proposed “public charge” rule, which would limit aspiring Americans’ ability to receive green cards should they need to utilize public assistance; the majority of commenters oppose the rule.
- CA will phase out private prisons and immigration detention centers by 2028.
- CA passes the Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act, providing investments and resources to colleges and universities to promote civic engagement in students.
- CA passes a law requiring later start times for middle schools and high schools to promote student health and stronger academic performance.
- CA: Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a bill guaranteeing all students a state-funded meal of their choice in order to end practices that single out students who can’t pay for school meals.
- NJ passes new laws making it easier for new parents to access family leave insurance benefits as well as pregnancy-related temporary disability insurance.
- TN Supreme Court declines appeal of Confederate monuments removal.
- WA state obtains a court order prohibiting the Federal Government from diverting funds allocated to an in-state military construction project to fund the building of a physical barrier on the nation’s southern border.
- Timothy Ragland is elected mayor of Talladega, AL, becoming the first black individual to hold the office.
- Berkeley, CA bans all government use of facial recognition technology, protecting community members’ privacy and safety.
- Circuit court reverses the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging LaGrange, GA’s policies unlawfully restricting access to basic utility services.
- U.S. Department of Justice awards a $317,422 grant to Milwaukee to support victims of firearm-related violence and reduce levels of violent crime.
- Levi’s and Justin Timberlake donate state-of-the-art songwriting lab to Stax Music Academy through Levi’s Music Project, which is designed to give young people access to music education and community resources.
- Chemical companies in California end their fight to continue selling pesticides containing chlorpyrifos, which is banned in the state due to safety concerns.
- Microsoft and GitHub employees protest against their employers’ contracts with ICE, citing the agency’s human rights violations against aspiring Americans.
Groups and organizations
- American Immigration Council files a lawsuit against USCIS and ICE over systemic delays in complying with Freedom of Information Act requests.
- Ohio Voter Project tracks voter registration data within the state in order to identify and correct wrongful purges from voter rolls.
- The ACLU files a lawsuit on behalf of migrant rights activists over the administration’s unlawful harassment and surveillance during the activists’ advocacy for aspiring Americans at the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Latinx Catholic Leadership Coalition and the Hope Border Institute sponsor an event in El Paso featuring workshops, trainings, and strategizing sessions in response to the inhumane treatment of aspiring Americans and people seeking refuge at the southern border.
- Thousands of doctors and medical students gather on Oct.19 in D.C. to demand the closure of immigration detention centers.
- Southern Poverty Law Center registers 1,379 new voters in Mississippi in time for the November 2019 elections.
- More than 3,500 high school students register to vote as a result of the Civics Center’s High School Voter Registration Week initiative.
- Activists march in protest of Salesforce’s and Amazon’s contracts with ICE.
- Never Again Action Rhode Island occupies the RI State House in an effort to convince state leadership to close the private Wyatt Detention Facility and cease collaboration with ICE.
News with heart
- Matthew Shepard is laid to rest at the Washington National Cathedral 20 years after the hate crime that took his life.
- Judy and Dennis Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s parents, urge support for transgender people’s rights in a letter read at a Justice Department ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; the letter received a standing ovation.
- Rolando, an aspiring American, is granted asylum after spending months in detention after being shot in the head.
- According to energy experts, clean-energy technologies such as wind and solar power are rising in popularity and implementation faster than expected.
- Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir take part in the first ever all-women spacewalk.
- Simone Biles becomes the world’s most decorated gymnast, having earned 25 world championship medals.
- 89-year-old Joy Ryan and her grandson Brad Ryan travel cross-country to visit all 61 U.S. National Parks.
- Kirtland’s warblers are removed from the Endangered Species List.
- See more good news at Women in the World, Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.
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