Reviving the Heart of Our Democracy: Our Work Matters More Than Ever
Great news! A federal appeals court has struck down what Ari Berman calls “The Nation’s Worst Anti-Voting Law“ in North Carolina and we see progress all over the country in pushing back against the tide of voter suppression. This is an exciting and critical time for our work. I hope you have heard Rev. Barber’s stirring call to be the “moral defibrillators of our time” and shock our democracy back into life. There is no better way to describe our mission at the Reeb Project, and no more important time than the next 88 days.
We will carry out this call to “revive the heart of our democracy” by mobilizing people of faith to defend the right to vote at the most basic level. We will be making sure that every person can exercise their right to vote, and has the information they need to participate in this historic election with so many critical issues and important choices. As the summer comes to a close, and the election draws nearer, we will be moving into high gear with many opportunities to get involved and carry out our legacy.
And even as we rejoice at recent court decisions striking down egregious voter suppression, we cannot be complacent. Rapidly changing rules, even when those changes expand opportunities, can still create confusion. Direct engagement with voters to ensure they understand how, when and where to vote will counteract that confusion and realize the full potential of those legal rulings. Our work matters now more than ever.
Reeb Project fall election kickoff meeting
On Sunday, September 11, at 1:15 pm (after second service), in the Eaton Room, we will host a kickoff meeting to talk more about our plans for the fall and hear your ideas about organizing and engagement in North Carolina and the DMV leading up to the election. We will also have many opportunities to help lead our work—both large and small—that you can sign up for. Please join us if you can. Click here to RSVP for kickoff meeting.
Travel to North Carolina for a Voter Registration and Voter Engagement Action
Mark your calendars now! We will travel to North Carolina the weekend of October 7–9 to partner with the UU Fellowship of Raleigh (and possibly others) to reach out to voters in the Raleigh area and make sure they are able to participate in the fall election. With all the rapid changes taking place in the North Carolina rules and procedures, talking directly to voters is critical to avoid the kind of misinformation that can reduce turnout and participation.
We will depart by bus from All Souls around noon or 1:00 pm on Friday, October 7, and be hosted locally for the weekend. Because of our desire to respect the travel boycott and avoid spending out of state money in North Carolina, we will only be using homestays and we will not have any hotel rooms. This also requires us to leave earlier on Friday to avoid a very late arrival for our hosts. Many thanks to our UUFR partners who are working to organize enough housing for us!
Saturday will be a big day of voter registration and walking neighborhoods to talk to voters and share information. Sunday morning we will all worship together and then do one more afternoon shift of work before departing for DC by bus. We will have some options for more stationary activities that do not require extensive walking. We anticipate returning late Sunday evening.
This trip is open to everyone, but there will not be any special activities organized for children or childcare, so please plan accordingly. There may also be a youth contingent; details to come about that.
We will ask for contributions toward the bus cost, but no one will be required to pay to come on the trip. We will have our registration link posted shortly and will send that out, and more details will be provided at our kickoff meeting on September 11.
About the All Souls Church Reeb Project for Voting Rights
The Reeb Project is named in honor of former All Souls associate minister James Reeb – beaten to death in 1965 when he went to Selma, Alabama, to march for voting rights. The Project has four goals for its work through 2016:
- Have impact on the national discussion on voting rights by leveraging our unique history, DC location and influence within Unitarian Universalism.
- Increase voter turnout in a specific North Carolina community during the 2014 and 2016 election cycles by working in solidarity with local UU congregations and people of color and progressive partner organizations.
- Continually raise consciousness of the injustice of our own disenfranchisement as DC residents and seek remedies to this injustice.
- Build the Beloved Community within and beyond our walls by developing a multiracial, multicultural voting rights team at All Souls and by working in solidarity and partnership with communities of color.
2014 – 2016 Accomplishments
- February 2014: More than 200 All Souls members and friends march in Moral March in Raleigh, NC with the UUA as part of the Forward Together/Moral Mondays movement
- June 2014: Flashmob on Supreme Court steps to mark gutting of Voting Rights Act
- Summer 2014: Teach-ins with national voting rights organizations
- September 2014: Voter registration weekend in Charlotte, NC, with UU Church of Charlotte and Piedmont UU Church registers hundreds of new voters
- October-November 2014: Get out the Vote phone banks with Democracy North Carolina make thousands of calls, successfully increase turn out of African-American first time voters and others
- February 2015: Reeb project returns to Moral March in Raleigh
- March 2015: All Souls delegation travels to Selma for 50th Anniversary of bridge crossing
- July 2015: Reeb Project joins NC NAACP for a massive teach in and Raleigh in Winston-Salem, NC to mark start of trial of Monster NC Voter Suppression law
- Fall 2015: Reeb Project volunteers make calls with Democracy North Carolina to learn more about how to get voters to support voting rights and other progressive issues.
- February 2016: Seventy-five member All Souls delegation, including Youth Group, travel to Raleigh for the Moral March and team with UU Fellowship of Raleigh for voter registration drive.
- April 2016: Reeb Project supports Democracy Spring/Democracy Awakening week of action; members help lead huge teach-in at All Souls, dozens join rallies and demonstrations, and over 20 are arrested.