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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Southern groups advocate for democracy amid legislative challenges

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Monday, April 1, 2024   

In the battle for democracy, grassroots organizations throughout the South are actively engaging voters on the issues that directly affect their communities - including voting rights, reproductive rights, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The groups Alabama Values and Southern Leadership for Voter Engagement hosted a roundtable discussion - called "As Goes the South" - to shed light on legislation of concern in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Rhyane Wagner, senior policy manager with the Black Voters Matter Fund, said some lawmakers have worked to pass bills that detrimentally affect voter participation.

"From 2008 to 2022, we're seeing a concerning downward trend in terms of our turnout," said Wagner, "and I lay that solely at the hands of a lot of the tactics being used across the South."

According to the Brennan Center, since the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v Holder, the gap in voter participation between white and nonwhite voters has been expanding.

Before that, states and localities with a history of racial discrimination in their voting practices had to get federal approval of any changes to election policies.

Jerome Dees, policy director with the Southern Poverty Law Center, highlighted concerning legislation in Alabama - citing SB 1, which criminalizes assisting voters with absentee ballots, and SB 129, which restricts diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in state agencies.

Dees said this signals an urgent need to reimagine advocacy and engage grassroots organizations in communities.

"This is a concerted effort that is being waged against these communities of color," said Dees, "with the hopes that we just throw up our hands and say, 'You know what? We give in. You win.' But it's important that we understand that tactic and brace ourselves, and rely upon community."

The speakers at the roundtable emphasized the importance of collaborating regionally, diversifying candidates, and mobilizing funds to support campaigns aimed at effecting change.

They agreed that local support plays a crucial role in driving long-term policy transformation to improve marginalized communities.




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