March on Ballot Boxes Speech – 50th Anniversary

Wednesday, May 4, 2016  Congressman James E. Clyburn

Dear Editor, The day of May 8, 1966, is forever seared in my memory. In addition to seeing Martin Luther King, Jr., in person…

for the first time since October, 1960, when I first met him on the campus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, there are two things I vividly remember about that day. First, there was light intermittent rain throughout the whole day, and second, we were in the middle of an athletic field.

My wife Emily and I had traveled from Charleston with four of our white friends; Brad and Sandra Fowler, Laura Martinez, and Bob Williamson. We all piled into the Fowlers’ light and dark beige van and headed to Kingstree to listen to Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his famous “March on the Ballot Boxes” speech – one of only a handful of speeches Dr. King would make in South Carolina in his lifetime.

There was a sense of hope in the air that day which was not dampened by the weather. After all the tension that had been rising over the past few months, his speech was one of the first signs that things could get better. Leading up to his speech in Kingstree, Dr. King had led many meaningful marches as a way to influence change. In fact, this was a little over a year after he and my colleague, John Lewis had led marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, one of which precipitated the fateful “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965. That event was the catalyst that moved President Lyndon Johnson to call for passage of the “1965 Voters Rights Act.”

In his “March on Ballot Boxes” speech, Dr. King encouraged thousands of citizens to head to the polls and exercise their right to vote. He believed that having the right to vote allowed citizens the power to influence change. I personally believe that power is still alive in our political system today. Unfortunately, many of my generation seem to have lost their focus and too many of the younger generation seem not to understand the relationship of voting to those things that really matter in our lives.

A lot has changed since that Mother’s Day in 1965. Some might say Dr. King would be proud of the progress we have made since then, and I certainly am. But others might say that, if Dr. King were alive today, he would be greatly disappointed, and I certainly am. I don’t think he would be disappointed in how we are progressing socially. But I am certain he would be disappointed in our low voter participation and low high school graduation rates.

As we gather to celebrate the 50th anniversary on May 8, I hope that we will take note of what is and is not happening around. I hope that we will re-focus our efforts and find ways to reignite the flame of hope that burned so brightly that day. I hope that we will see the value of getting involved in our respective communities and confront the challenges facing our nation today.

In the words spoken by Dr. King on that day, “Let us march on ballot boxes…so men and women will no longer walk the streets in search for jobs that do not exist…

“Let us march on ballot boxes until brotherhood is more than a meaningless word at the end of a prayer, but the first order of business on every legislative agenda…

“Let us march on ballot boxes until every valley shall be exalted, till every mountain and hill shall be made low, until the rough places are made plane and the crooked places straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed…

“Let us march on ballot boxes until we are able to send to the statehouses of the South men who will do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God. Let us march on ballot boxes.”

And your plan better include voting – not just some of the time, but all the time. It is absolutely true that 50 years after the Voting Rights Act, there are still too many barriers in the country to vote. There are too many people trying to erect new barriers to voting. This the only advanced democracy on Earth that goes out of its way to make it difficult for people to vote. And there’s a reason for that. There’s a legacy to that.

But let me say this: Even if we dismantled every barrier to sing, that alone would not change the fact that America has some of the lowest voting rates in the free world. In 2014, only 36 percent of Americans turned out to vote in the midterms – the second lowest participate rate on record. Youth turnout – that would be you – was less then 20 percent. Less than 20 percent. Four out of five did not vote. In 2012, nearly two in three African Americans turned out. And then in 2014, only two in five turned out. You don’t think that made a difference in terms of the Congress I’ve got to deal with? And then people are wondering, well, how come Obama hasn’t gotten this done? How come he didn’t get that done? You don’t think that made a difference? What would have happened if you had turned out at 50, 60, 70 percent, all across this country? People try to make this political thing really complicated. Like what kind of of reforms do we need? And how do we need to do that? You know what, just vote. It’s math. If you have more votes then the other guy, you get to do what you want. It’s not complicated.

And you don’t have excuses. You don’t have to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap to register to vote. You don’t have to risk your life to cast a ballot. Other people already did that for you. Your grandparents, your great grandparents might be here today if they were working on it. What’s your excuse? When we don’t vote, we give away our power, disenfranchise ourselves – right when we need to use the power that we have; right when we need your power to stop others from taking way the vote and rights of those more vulnerable than you are – the elderly and the poor the formerly incarcerated trying to earn their second chance.

So you got to vote all the time, not just when it is cool, not when it’s time to elect a President, not just when your inspired. It’s your duty. When it’s time to elect a member of Congress or a city councilman, or a school board member, or a sheriff. That’s how we do change our politics – by electing people at every level who are representative of and accountable to use. It is not that complicated. Don’t make it complicated

5/7/16 President Obama commencement speech to Howard University’s Class of 2016

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Freedom Rides – 55th Anniversary

1961 Freeom Rides1961 Freedom Riders Map

Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and following years to challenge the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decisions Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946) and Boynton v. Virginia (1960),  which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional.The Southern states had ignored the rulings and the federal government did nothing to enforce them. The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961,  and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.

Boynton outlawed racial segregation in the restaurants and waiting rooms in terminals serving buses that crossed state lines. Five years prior to the Boynton ruling, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) had issued a ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company that had explicitly denounced the Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of separate but equal in interstate bus travel. The ICC failed to enforce its ruling, and Jim Crow travel laws remained in force throughout the South.

The Freedom Riders challenged this status quo by riding interstate buses in the South in mixed racial groups to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation in seating. The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement. They called national attention to the disregard for the federal law and the local violence used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. Police arrested riders for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses, but they often first let white mobs attack them without intervention.

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sponsored most of the subsequent Freedom Rides, but some were also organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Freedom Rides followed dramatic sit-ins against segregated lunch counters, conducted by students and youth throughout the South, and boycotts of retail establishments that maintained segregated facilities, beginning in 1960.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Boynton supported the right of interstate travelers to disregard local segregation ordinances. Southern local and state police considered the actions of the Freedom Riders as criminal and arrested them in some locations. In some localities, such as Birmingham, Alabama, the police cooperated with Ku Klux Klan chapters and other whites opposing the actions and allowed mobs to attack the riders.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Rides
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Coming Together For Equality

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State bans on local anti-discrimination laws in the United States is anti-LGBT state laws that prohibit local cities and counties from enacting, with the exception of public employment, anti-discrimination laws that are not covered by statewide anti-discrimination laws. The first state to enact such a law was Tennessee in 2011.

List of state bans on local anti-discrimination laws

For more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_bans_on_local_anti-discrimination_laws_in_the_United_States

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More than 60 Major CEOs & Business Leaders Demand Repeal of Mississippi’s Anti-LGBT Law

April 14, 2016 By Ianthe Metzger – humanrightscampaign

Today, HRC announced that more than 60 leading CEOs and business leaders– including executives from Bloomberg LP, CVS Health, Dropbox, Hilton Worldwide and Salesforce– have signed onto an open letter calling on Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, and House Speaker Philip A. Gunn to repeal H.B. 1523. H.B. 1523, the so-called “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act,” allows almost any individual or organization to use religion as a justification to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at school, and in their communities.

“It is unfathomable that in 2016, Mississippi has passed a law that explicitly allows LGBT people to be denied service or discriminated against simply because of who they are and whom they love,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.“That’s why across Mississippi and the nation, business leaders are speaking out against this discriminatory legislation that harms their employees, harms consumers, and harms their businesses. But there’s still time for Mississippi lawmakers to reverse course and do the right thing. We urge Governor Bryant and state lawmakers to lead their state to a better future, leaving the politics of discrimination and prejudice firmly in the past. It’s time for them to listen, stand up for all Mississippians, and work quickly to repeal H.B. 1523.”

Earlier this week, Mississippi State Rep. Jay Hughes and members of the Mississippi House of Representatives announced an effort to suspend regular House rules in order to introduce the “Mississippi Economic and Tourism Recovery Act” — a bill that would overturn H.B. 1523. Two-thirds of House members must vote in favor of suspending the rules to allow a vote on the proposed legislation to repeal H.B. 1523.

In addition to the major corporations signing onto this letter calling for repeal, some of the state’s largest employers, including Nissan Group of North America, Tyson Food Inc, MGM Resorts International, and Toyota, have publicly voiced their opposition to the appalling legislation — joining national corporations such as AT&T, IBM, and MassMutual. Gov. Bryant also ignored the call of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) to veto the discriminatory measure. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has joined an effort to get more CEOs to speak publicly against the law, and top executives from Microsoft and IBM have asserted that the law is bad for business.

Additionally, rocker Bryan Adams cancelled a concert scheduled for later this week in Biloxi, MS, and nearly 100 prominent writers from the state, including John Grisham and Kathryn Stockett, signed a letter protesting the discriminatory law. ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is featured as the welcoming face of the Hospitality State’s official tourism guide, also decried the legislation saying, “hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome.” Actress Sharon Stone has also cancelled a film shoot in Mississippi because of the law, and the New York Mississippi Society cancelled their 37th Mississippi Picnic in Central Park.

Under this new law, religion could be used by almost any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples, and others. Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person — even if the organization receives government funding. It would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and subject a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension. It would even allow individuals to refuse to carry out the terms of a state contract for the provision of counseling services to all eligible individuals, including veterans, based on the counselor’s beliefs about LGBT people or single mothers.

Furthermore, schools, employers, and service providers could refuse transgender people access to appropriate sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity — all in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement of federal law. HB 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.

For more: http://www.hrc.org/blog/more-than-60-major-ceos-business-leaders-demand-repeal-of-mississippis-anti

U.K. Issues Travel Warning About Antigay U.S. States

Days before President Obama travels to England, the United Kingdom’s foreign office has issued a travel warning to British tourists visiting the American South, specifically referencing North Carolina and Mississippi.

On the U.K.’s Foreign Office website, under the local laws and customs section of the USA travel advice, is the following message:

Local laws and customs

Laws vary from state to state. When you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state’s laws. You must carry a passport showing that you have leave to enter or remain with you at all times.

The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country. LGBT travellers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi. Before travelling please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community. You can find more detail on LGBT issues in the US on the website of the Human Rights Campaign.

For more: http://www.advocate.com/world/2016/4/20/uk-issues-travel-warning-about-antigay-us-states
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DNC 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Debate – New York

Proud to be a Democrat
The Democratic National Party
For more than 200 years, our party has led the fight for civil rights, health care, Social Security, workers’ rights, and women’s rights.

We are the party of Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, FDR, and the countless everyday Americans who work each day to build a more perfect union.

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2016 Presidential Democratic Candidates - Feb 2016

2016 Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Debate

Democratic National Committee announced that six debates are scheduled — at a pace of roughly one per month , this will give voters ample opportunities to hear the 2016 Democratic Presidential candidates discuss their visions for our country’s future.

Debates provide a opportunity for our candidates to engage in a rigorous discussion, not only with each other, but also to show the American people where Democrats stand. The Democratic National Committee has scheduled six debates that will highlight the stark differences between Democrats and Republicans, and help ensure that whoever caucus goers and voters choose as the Democratic nominee will become the 45th President of the United States.

What?

Our Democratic candidates are committed to fighting for middle-class families and expanding opportunities to pursue the American Dream, while Republicans continue to push for policies that are out of date and out of touch.

Who?

Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders

When?

April 14, 2016
9 PM ET
Duggal Greenhouse, Brooklyn, NY
Hosted by CNN/NY1/New York Democratic Party

Why?

The choice the American people will face in next November’s election couldn’t be more important. Voters across the country are going to decide between two very different plans for our country — an economy built to last that will strengthen and sustain our middle class, or the failed trickle-down economics of the past. These debates will highlight the Democratic Party’s policies, which will continue to strengthen the middle class, and we hope Americans across the political spectrum will tune in.

Since 1848, the Democratic National Committee has been the home of the Democratic Party, the oldest continuing party in the United States.

Today we are millions of supporters strong, fighting for progress and helping elect Democrats across the country to state government, Congress, and the White House.

There are several core beliefs that tie our party together: Democrats believe that we’re greater together than we are on our own—that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. Our party, led by President Obama, is focused on building an economy that lifts up all Americans, not just those at the top.

That’s why Democrats are working to make progress on issues like job creation, equal pay, education, health care, and clean energy.

For more: http://www.democrats.org/Post/democratic-national-committee-announces-six-primary-debates

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Hillary Clinton on the Issues

 (source: hillaryclinton.com)

Businesses

  • Launch a national effort to cut the red tape holding small businesses back.
  • Provide targeted tax relief for small businesses and simplify tax filing.
  • Give small businesses—in particular, minority and women-owned businesses—more access to the financing and new markets they need to grow.
  • Provide a tax credit for businesses that create high-quality apprenticeships that lead to jobs.

Civil Rights

  • It’s not enough to condemn campus sexual assault. We need to stop campus sexual assault.
  • Restore the crucial provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Implement universal, automatic voter registration for eligible 18-year-olds.
  • Set a new national standard allowing early voting to begin 20 days or more before an election.

Climate Change

  • Create good-paying jobs by making the United States the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.
  • Set national goals to have 500 million solar panels installed; generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America; cut energy waste in homes, schools, and hospitals by a third; and reduce American oil consumption by a third.
  • Lead the world in the fight against climate change by bringing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below what they were in 2005 within the next decade—and keep going.

Criminal Justice Reform

  • End the era of mass incarceration, reform mandatory minimum sentences, and end private prisons.
  • Encourage the use of smart strategies—like police body cameras—and end racial profiling to rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities.
  • Help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society.

Defense

  • Keep America safe and secure by defending our core values and leading with principle.
  • Defeat ISIS and global terrorism and the ideologies that drive it.
  • Strengthen our alliances and nurture new relationships to tackle shared challenges such as climate change, cyber threats, and highly contagious diseases.

Disability Rights

  • Realize the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Improve access to meaningful and gainful employment for people with disabilities.
  • Provide tax relief to help the millions of families caring for aging relatives or family members with chronic illnesses or disabilities.

Drug Addiction

  • Empower communities to implement preventive programming for adolescents about drug use and addiction.
  • Ensuring that everyone who needs access to continuing support and treatment.
  • All first responders have access to naloxone, which can prevent opioid overdoses from becoming fatal
  • Require licensed prescribers to meet requirements for a minimum amount of training, and consult a prescription drug monitoring program before writing a prescription for controlled medications.

Economy

  • Give working families a raise, and tax relief that helps them manage rising costs.
  • Create good-paying jobs and get pay rising by investing in infrastructure, clean energy, and scientific and medical research to strengthen our economy and growth.
  • Boost federal investment by $275 billion over the next five years.
  • Create a $25 billion infrastructure bank to support critical infrastructure improvements.
  • Harness public and private capital to fix and build new roads and bridges, expand public transportation, give every American access to broadband internet, and more.

Education

  • Ensure no student has to borrow to pay for tuition, books, or fees to attend a four-year public college in their state.
  • Enable Americans with existing student loan debt to refinance at current rates.
  • Hold colleges and universities accountable for controlling costs and making tuition affordable.
  • Invest in early childhood programs like Early Head Start.
  • Ensure that every 4-year-old in America has access to high-quality preschool in the next 10 years.
  • Provide child care and scholarships to meet the needs of student parents.

Election Reform

  • Overturn Citizens United.
  • End secret, unaccountable money in politics.
  • Establish a small-donor matching system to amplify the voices of everyday Americans.

Energy and Environment

  • Set national goals to have 500 million solar panels installed; generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America; cut energy waste in homes, schools, and hospitals by a third; and reduce American oil consumption by a third.
  • Lead the world in the fight against climate change by bringing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below what they were in 2005 within the next decade—and keep going.

Foreign Policy

  • Defeat ISIS and global terrorism and the ideologies that drive it.
  • Strengthen our alliances and nurture new relationships to tackle shared challenges such as climate change, cyber threats, and highly contagious diseases.

Gun Violence

  • Strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in the current system.
  • Hold irresponsible dealers and manufacturers accountable.
  • Keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill.

Health Care

  • We can prevent, effectively treat, and make an Alzheimer’s cure possible by 2025.
  • Defend the Affordable Care Act and build on it to slow the growth of out-of-pocket costs.
  • Crack down on rising prescription drug prices and hold drug companies accountable so they get ahead by investing in research, not jacking up costs.
  • Protect women’s access to reproductive health care.
  • Guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
  • Ensure at least a two-thirds wage replacement rate for workers.
  • Pay for paid leave by making the wealthiest pay their fair share—not raising taxes on working families.
  • Fight any effort to privatize or weaken Medicare and Social Security, and expand Social Security for future generations by asking the wealthiest to contribute more.
  • Reform our health care system to incentivize and reward quality care.

Homeland Security

  • Keep America safe and secure by defending our core values and leading with principle.

Immigration Reform

  • Enact comprehensive immigration reform to create a pathway to citizenship, keep families together, and enable millions of workers to come out of the shadows.
  • End family detention and close private immigrant detention centers.
  • Defend President Obama’s executive actions to provide deportation relief for DREAMers and parents of Americans and lawful residents, and extend those actions to additional persons with sympathetic cases if Congress refuses to act.

LGBT Equality

  • Ensure full federal equality for all LGBT Americans.
  • Support LGBT kids, parents, and elders.
  • Secure affordable treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Racial Justice

Seniors & Social Security

  • Demand lower prices for prescription drugs for seniors receiving Medicare.
  • Expand Social Security benefits for widows and those who took time out of the paid workforce to care for a child or sick family member.
  • Fight any effort to privatize or weaken Medicare and Social Security, and expand Social Security for future generations by asking the wealthiest to contribute more.

Supreme Court Appointees

Taxes

  • Close corporate tax loopholes and make the most fortunate pay their fair share.
  • Provide targeted tax relief for small businesses and simplify tax filing.
  • Provide a tax credit for businesses that create high-quality apprenticeships that lead to jobs.

Technology

  • Harness public and private capital to fix and build new roads and bridges, expand public transportation, give every American access to broadband internet, and more.

Unions

  • Strengthen unions and protect worker bargaining power.
  • Raise the minimum wage and strengthen overtime rules.
  • Support working families through equal pay, paid family leave, earned sick days, fair schedules, and quality affordable child care.

Veterans

  • Put our veterans needs first by ensuring access to timely and high quality care and blocking efforts to privatize the VA.
  • Ensure that the men and women who risk their lives for our country have access to a good education and good jobs when they come home by solidifying services and programs that connect veterans to jobs after their service.
  • Strengthen services and support for military families who serve alongside our service members.

Wall Street Reform

  • Veto Republican efforts to repeal or weaken Dodd-Frank.
  • Tackle dangerous risks in the big banks and elsewhere in the financial system.
  • Hold both individuals and corporations accountable when they break the law.

Women

  • Ensure equal pay for women.
  • Defend women’s health and reproductive rights against attacks.
  • Fight for paid family leave and affordable child care.

Hillary Clinton Presidential Primary 2016 Endorsements 

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Bernie Sanders on the Issues 

(source: berniesanders.com)

Businesses

  • Breaking up huge financial institutions so that they are no longer too big to fail.
  • Unions
  • Making it easier for workers to join unions by fighting for the Employee Free Choice Act

Civil Rights

  • We must rein in the National Security Agency and end the bulk collection of phone records, internet history, and email data of virtually all Americans.
  • Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies must have the tools they need to protect the American people, but there must be legal oversight and they must go about their work in a way that does not sacrifice our basic freedoms
  • U.S. must never again embrace torture as a matter of official policy. In an increasingly brutal world, the wanton use of torture by the Bush administration simply meant we lost our moral standing to condemn others who engage in merciless behavior.

Climate Change

  • Reclaim our democracy from the billionaire fossil fuel lobby
  • Accelerate a just transition away from fossil fuels
  • Invest in clean, sustainable energy
  • Revolutionize our electric and transportation infrastructure
  • Lead the international community to solve climate change and prevent international conflict

Criminal Justice Reform

  • We must prevent employers from discriminating against applicants based on criminal history by “banning the box.”
  • We need to ban prisons for profit, which result in an over-incentive to arrest, jail and detain in order to keep prison beds full.
  • We need to boost investments for programs that help people who have gone to jail rebuild their lives with education and job training.

Defense

  • U.S. military must be equipped to fight today’s battles
  • Our defense budget must represent our national security interests and the needs of our military, not the reelection of members of Congress or the profits of defense contractors
  • U.S. must never again embrace torture as a matter of official policy. In an increasingly brutal world, the wanton use of torture by the Bush administration simply meant we lost our moral standing to condemn others who engage in merciless behavior.
  • Close the Guantanamo Bay detention center

Disability Rights

  • Protect and expand the Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI)
  • Increase employment and education opportunities for persons with disabilities
  • Fight for the U.S. ratification of the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities

Economy

  • Increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020
  • Putting at least 13 million Americans to work by investing $1 trillion over five years in infrastructure improvement
  • Reversing trade policies like NAFTA, CAFTA, and PNTR with China that have driven down wages and caused the loss of millions of jobs
  • Creating 1 million jobs for disadvantaged young Americans by investing $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program.
  • Fighting for pay equity by signing the Paycheck Fairness Act into law.

Education

  • Making tuition free at public colleges and universities throughout America
  • Setting student loan interest rates would go back to where it was in 2006
  • Allow Americans would be able to refinance their student loans at today’s low interest rates
  • Prevent the federal government from profiteering on the backs of college students and use this money instead to significantly lower student loan interest rates.
  • Require public colleges and universities to meet 100% of the financial needs of the lowest-income students
  • Enacting a universal childcare and prekindergarten program.

Election Reform

  • Fight to pass a constitutional amendment making it clear that Congress and the states have the power to regulate money in elections
  • Fight for a publicly financed, transparent system of campaign financing that amplifies small donations, along the lines of the Fair Elections Now Act
  • Insist on complete transparency regarding the funding of campaigns, including through disclosure of contributions to outside spending groups, via legislation, action by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Election Commission, and Federal Communication Commission, and an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending.
  • Fight to eliminate super PACs and other outside spending abuses.
  • Work to aggressively enforce campaign finance rules.

Energy and Environment

  • Invest in clean, sustainable energy

Foreign Policy

  • Strength through diplomacy
  • Voted against the Iraq War
  • Prevent a nuclear Iran
  • U.S. must play a leading role in creating a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine
  • Expand our global influence by promoting fair trade, addressing global climate change, providing humanitarian relief and economic assistance, defending the rule of law, and promoting human rights.

Gun Violence (Information obtained from http://www.ontheissues.org/Domestic/Bernie_Sanders_Gun_Control.htm)

  • Voted YES on banning high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets.
  • Voted YES on allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains.
  • Voted YES on prohibiting foreign & UN aid that restricts US gun ownership.
  • Voted YES on prohibiting product misuse lawsuits on gun manufacturers.
  • Voted YES on prohibiting suing gunmakers & sellers for gun misuse.
  • Voted NO on decreasing gun waiting period from 3 days to 1.
  • Rated F by the NRA, indicating a pro-gun control voting record.

Health Care

  • Guaranteeing healthcare as a right of citizenship by enacting a Medicare for all single-payer healthcare system.
  • Requiring employers to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; two weeks of paid vacation; and 7 days of paid sick days
  • Require Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate with the prescription drug companies for better prices – a practice that is currently banned by law.
  • Last year there were more than 37 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in private Part D plans. 90 percent of seniors take at least one prescription. Many seniors – almost two-thirds – take three or more prescription drugs.
  • Negotiate substantially reduce prices seniors and people with disabilities pay for drugs, it could save Medicare between $230 billion to $541 billion dollars over the next decade.
  • 83 percent of Americans support allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies for better prices.
  • Allow individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies.
  • Prohibit the United States from agreeing to provisions in international trade deals that would raise drug prices in the United States or extend the monopoly period when a brand name drug company has no generic competition.
  • Suspend the government’s authority to destroy packages of imported drugs at the border until new legislation is passed ensuring that Americans can import safe and affordable drugs from Canada.
  • Prohibit deals that keep generic drugs off the market
  • Enact stronger penalties for healthcare fraud
  • Require pricing and cost transparency

Homeland Security

  • Our country must remain vigilant to protect us from terrorist attacks at home, whether from organized international terrorist networks, or from “lone wolf” extremists

Immigration Reform

  • Allow immigrants to purchase health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Issue whistleblower visas for workers who report abuse and employer violations.
  • Redirect resources away from boondoggle walls to modernize our border and ensure proper oversight that protects border communities.
  • Employ humanitarian parole to ensure the return of unjustly deported immigrants and unify broken families.
  • Ensure our border remains secure and protects local communities.
  • Regulate future flows via a reformed visa system and reworked trade agreements.
  • Put a stop to the notion that the border must be secured before a legalization can happen.
  • Dismantle inhumane deportation programs and private detention centers.
  • Reject “The Great Sanctuary City Slander” as the politics of fear, and support humane local and state laws that integrate immigrants to our society.

LGBT Equality

  • Sign into law the Equality Act, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, and any other bill that prohibits discrimination against LGBT people.
  • Work with HHS to ensure LGBT Americans have access to comprehensive health insurance which provides appropriate coverage and do not have to fear discrimination or mistreatment from providers.
  • Continue the great work of the State Department’s Special Envoy for LGBT Rights and ensure the United States helps protect the rights of LGBT people around the world.
  • Advance policies to ensure students can attend school without fear of bullying, and work to reduce suicides.
  • Require police departments to adopt policies to ensure fairer interactions with transgender people, especially transgender women of color who are often targeted by police unfairly, and institute training programs to promote compliance with fair policies.
  • Bar discrimination against LGBT people by creditors and banks so that people will not be unfairly denied mortgages, credit cards, or student loans.
  • Veto any legislation that purports to “protect” religious liberty at the expense of others’ rights.

Racial Justice

  • We must demilitarize our police forces so they don’t look and act like invading armies.
  • We must invest in community policing. Only when we get officers into the communities, working within neighborhoods before trouble arises, do we develop the relationships necessary to make our communities safer together
  • We must create a police culture that allows for good officers to report the actions of bad officers without fear of retaliation and allows for a department to follow through on such reports.
  • We need police forces that reflect the diversity of our communities, including in the training academies and leadership.
  • At the federal level, we need to establish a new model police training program that reorients the way we do law enforcement in this country
  • We need to federally fund and require body cameras for law enforcement officers to make it easier to hold them accountable.
  • We need to require police departments and states to collect data on all police shootings and deaths that take place while in police custody and make that data public.
  • We need new rules on the allowable use of force. Police officers need to be trained to de-escalate confrontations and to humanely interact with people who have mental illnesses.
  • States and localities that make progress in this area should get more federal justice grant money. Those that do not should get their funding slashed.
  • We need to make sure federal resources are there to crack down on the illegal activities of hate groups.

Rural Economies

  • Make sure that family farmers and rural economies thrive;
  • Expand support for young and beginning farmers;
  • Produce an abundant and nutritious food supply;
  • Establish an on-going regeneration of our soils; and
  • Enlist farmers as partners in promoting conservation and stewardship to keep our air and water clean and to combat climate change.
  • Family farms instead of factory farms
  • Fighting for America’s small and mid-sized farms.
  • Encouraging the growth of regional food systems
  • Reversing trade policies like NAFTA
  • Enforcing our country’s antitrust laws against large agribusiness and food corporations
  • Improving our electric grid
  • Investing in broadband and high-speed Internet services

Seniors & Social Security

  • Expanding Social Security by lifting the cap on taxable income above $250,000.
  • Restore discount drug prices for low-income seniors

Supreme Court Appointees

  • Only appoint Supreme Court justices who will make it a priority to overturn Citizens United and who understand that corruption in politics means more than just quid pro quo.

Taxes

  • Wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes

Technology

  • Improving our electric grid
  • Investing in broadband and high-speed Internet services

Veterans

  • Fully fund and expand the VA so that every veteran gets the care that he or she has earned and deserves.
  • Substantially improve the processing of Veterans’ claims for compensation.
  • Expand the VA’s Caregivers Program.
  • Expand mental health service for Veterans.
  • Make comprehensive dental care available to all veterans at the VA.

Women

  • Sign the Paycheck Fairness Act into law to end wage discrimination based on gender.
  •  Expand, not cut, funding for Planned Parenthood, the Title X family planning program, and other initiatives that protect women’s health, access to contraception, and the availability of a safe and legal abortion
  •  Nominate Supreme Court justices who understand that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and recognize the rights of women to have access to family planning services
  • Make high-quality childcare and Pre-K available to every American, regardless of income.
  • Increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour would significantly boost the wages of more than 15 million women and help close the gender wage gap.
  •  Increasing the tipped minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023 would lift millions of women out of poverty and significantly reduce the gender pay gap
  • Substantially increase funding for this program so that every low-income mother and her children receive the nutrition they need to live healthy lives.


Bernie Sanders Presidential Primary 2016 Endorsements

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2016 Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Debate
April 14, 2016
9:00 PM ET
Duggal Greenhouse, Brooklyn, New York
Hosted by CNN/NY1/New York Democratic Party

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Live Stream: http://www.cnn.com

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Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument

Secretary Jewell Applauds President Obama’s Designation of New Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C.

Historic announcement to be made on National Equal Pay Day; Designation comes with $1 million donation to National Park Foundation from Philanthropist David Rubenstein and virtual tour experience from Google

April 11, 2016 doi.gov

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell applauded President Obama’s announcement of the designation of the newly named Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, formerly the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, permanently protecting the site that became emblematic of the mission to advance women’s rights throughout the 20th century.

The announcement will be celebrated at a ceremony tomorrow at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument with President Obama and Secretary Jewell on Equal Pay Day, the nationally recognized symbolic day in which a woman’s pay catches up to her male counterparts from the year prior. President Obama has made equal pay a top priority in his administration, taking a number of steps to fight for pay equity and annually recognizing through Equal Pay Day that women should earn wages equal to their male colleagues. President Obama and Secretary Jewell will be joined by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, executive director of the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum Page Harrington and local leaders.

“The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument will honor and forever remind us of the risk, the work and the dedication of those who gathered in this house to fight for women’s equality. We must never forget their hard-fought struggle for the right to vote and equal rights for women under the law,” said Secretary Jewell. “This designation memorializes the efforts of the National Women’s Party into a permanent piece of history, preserving the treasures of their work in these walls for the benefit of future generations. The timing could not be more symbolic as we mark National Equal Pay Day, an important reminder that women are still fighting for equality today.”

For more: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-jewell-applauds-president-obama’s-designation-new-belmont-paul-women’s

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US Women’s Rights Movement Timeline 1848 – 2016 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)

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April 12, 2016
President Obama’s Designation of New Belmont-Paul Women’s
Equality National Monument
Washington, D.C.

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National Monuments Designated by President Obama

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SCOTUS Ruling: Everyone Counts

SCOTUS unanimously rejects challenge to ‘one person, one vote’

04/04/16 10:50 AM—UPDATED 04/04/16 01:10 PM By Zachary Roth and Pete Williams – msnbc

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected an effort to change political boundaries and reduce the voting strength of the nation’s Latino population on Monday.

Two residents of Texas urged the court to rule that in drawing legislative boundaries to create districts with roughly equal populations, states should count the voting population, not the total population.

Using the total population figures, the challengers said, dilutes the voting power of residents in districts with large numbers of people who are not eligible to vote, violating the one-person, one-vote requirement.

But not a single justice ruled for the challengers.

“Adopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 states and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries,” wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the court.

Justice Ginsburg announces opinion in One Person One Vote case. (Note: Alito and Breyer absent, Sotomayor not shown) Photo by Art Lien
The challengers, she said, “have shown no reason for the court to disturb this longstanding use of total population.”

Ginsburg’s opinion was joined by Justices John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito each wrote separate concurring opinions.

Relying instead on voting population could result in fewer districts in areas that elect Hispanic representatives. Opponents of the idea said it would shift political power away from urban areas with large minority populations, which tend to vote for Democrats, and toward rural areas, where Republicans do better at the polls.

The nation’s founders, Ginsburg said, understood that “representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote.”

For more: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/scotus-unanimously-rejects-challenge-one-person-one-vote

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#EveryoneCounts

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1965 SCLC Murders

Selma 1965 Memorial Honoring Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo

Selma Voting Rights Movement and the march to Montgomery

When voter registration and civil rights activity in Selma, Alabama was blocked by an illegal injunction, the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) asked SCLC for assistance. Dr. King, SCLC, and DCVL chose Selma as the site for a major campaign around voting rights that would demand national voting rights legislation in the same way that the Birmingham and St. Augustine campaigns won passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In cooperation with SNCC who had been organizing in Selma since early 1963, the Voting Rights Campaign commenced with a rally in Brown Chapel on January 2, 1965 in defiance of the injunction. SCLC and SNCC organizers recruited and trained blacks to attempt to register to vote at the courthouse, where many of them were abused and arrested by Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark — a staunch segregationist. Black voter applicants were subjected to economic retaliation by the White Citizens’ Council, and threatened with physical violence by the Ku Klux Klan. Officials used the discriminatory literacy test to keep blacks off the voter rolls.

Nonviolent mass marches demanded the right to vote and the jails filled up with arrested protesters, many of them students. On February 1, Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy were arrested. Voter registration efforts and protest marches spread to the surrounding Black Belt counties — PerryWilcoxMarengoGreene, and Hale. On February 18, an Alabama State Trooper shot and killed Jimmie Lee Jackson during a voting rights protest in Marion, county seat of Perry County. In response, James Bevel, who was directing SCLC’s Selma actions, called for a a march from Selma to Montgomery, and on March 7 close to 600 protesters attempted the march to present their grievances to Governor Wallace. Led by Reverend Hosea Williams of SCLC and John Lewis of SNCC, the marchers were attacked by State Troopers, deputy sheriffs, and mounted possemen who used tear-gas, horses, clubs, and bull whips to drive them back to Brown Chapel. News coverage of this brutal assault on nonviolent demonstrators protesting for the right to vote — which became known as “Bloody Sunday” — horrified the nation.

Dr. King, Bevel, Diane Nash and others called on clergy and people of conscience to support the black citizens of Selma. Thousands of religious leaders and ordinary Americans came to demand voting rights for all. One of them was James Reeb, a white Unitarian Universalist minister, who was savagely beaten to death on the street by Klansmen who severely injured two other ministers in the same attack.

After more protests, arrests, and legal maneuvering, Federal Judge Frank M. Johnson ordered Alabama to allow the march to Montgomery. It began on March 21 and arrived in Montgomery on the 24th. On the 25th, an estimated 25,000 protesters marched to the steps of the Alabama capitol in support of voting rights where Dr. King spoke. Within five months, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson responded to the enormous public pressure generated by the Selma Voting Rights Movement by enacting into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

For more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Christian_Leadership_Conference#Selma_Voting_Rights_Movement_and_the_march_to_Montgomery

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Viola Gregg Liuzzo

On March 16, 1965, Viola Liuzzo left Detroit, Michigan to take part in the voting rights protests in Selma, Alabama. For a little over a week prior to her departure from Detroit, Liuzzo was terribly disturbed by the news coverage she had seen of the violent “Bloody Sunday” attacks on protestors on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7. Liuzzo participated in demonstrations through the streets of Detroit and on the campus of Wayne State University in a show of support for the rights of those who had been attacked. However, as a woman who possessed strong convictions and a demonstrated willingness to take action for causes she believed in, Liuzzo was convinced that she had to actually join the fight in Selma. Thus, Liuzzo headed south on a journey that would ultimately end in tragedy and controversy.

In Alabama, Liuzzo joined thousands of fellow protestors in the first leg of the historic Selma to Montgomery march on March 21. However, state officials only allowed 300 marchers to continue the journey along the section of Highway 80 known as “Big Swamp” where the road narrowed from four to two lanes, and Liuzzo was not among the chosen group. Instead, she served at the Brown’s Chapel hospitality desk in Selma until she rejoined the selected group on March 24 at City of St. Jude just inside the Montgomery city limits, where she provided first aid to many of the marchers (Stanton, 1998, pp. 158-164). While waiting for the final leg of the march to start on the morning of March 25, Liuzzo had a premonition that somebody was going to be killed that day; she thought it might even be Alabama Governor George Wallace. After spending time in prayer, Liuzzo felt better and joined a swelling crowd of thousands of protestors who triumphantly walked to the steps of the capitol building.

After the rally at the capitol ended, Liuzzo returned to City of St. Jude where she met up with Leroy Moton, a young civil rights worker who had been using Liuzzo’s car to shuttle marchers back and forth between Selma and Montgomery. Liuzzo drove a group of marchers and Moton to Selma, where Moton retrieved a set of keys for another car in Montgomery that was to be used to transport additional groups of marchers. Liuzzo offered to drive Moton back to Montgomery and to bring any remaining marchers back to Selma before leaving for Detroit. Just after 7:30 p.m., Liuzzo and Moton stopped alongside another car at a traffic light near the Edmund Pettus Bridge at the beginning of their return trip to Montgomery. Tragically, Liuzzo’s morning prediction of murder was about to become reality.

The car next to Liuzzo’s at the traffic light carried four Klansmen who had taunted the voting rights marchers in Montgomery earlier in the day and then drove to Selma looking to cause some trouble. When they spotted a white woman driving a car with a young black male passenger, the Klansmen decided to follow and attack Liuzzo and Moton. On a stretch of Highway 80 between Selma and Montgomery, the Klansmen pulled alongside the driver’s side of Liuzzo’s car, and at least two of the Klansmen fired their guns at Liuzzo and Moton. Liuzzo was struck in the head killing her instantly and causing her car to veer off the road.

For more: http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/witnesses/violaliuzzo.htm

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