Dear Activist,

It’s been a while since our last check-in, and I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well. So much has happened over the past few weeks. We took a week off here at Citizen Action for much-needed rest and recuperation, but we’re back to planning and executing strategies to win transformative change in our communities.

There’s not much one can say to ease the pain and suffering so many are experiencing right now. From losing loved ones to worrying about how our families will move forward once the pandemic passes. I’ve been thinking a lot about what things will look like a year or two from now. I know every action we take today matters. Our statewide campaigns are in motion for housing, education and climate justice, and to end mass incarceration. The Legislators are legislating, and primary elections are on June 23.

Now more than ever, we need to get people in office who have our best interests at heart, and share our vision for a just world. Covid-19 proved just how connected we all are. Click here for our full list of endorsed candidates for 2020. New Yorkers can now request and vote by absentee ballot for any election on or before June 23! Click here to download the absentee ballot form in English or Spanish. Now, let’s get into some of what’s been going lately in the virtual world of community organizing and activism.


Leader Spotlight

This week’s spotlight goes to Tanzania Hughie. Tanzania has been a member at our New York City chapter for almost 2 years now. A writer, director and actor, Tanzania considers herself an “Art-ivist.” The issues closest to her heart are housing, the wage gap, education, youth development and the arts in schools.


Around the State

Courtney Miller, Citizen Action Community Organizer in New York City, joined Denis Octavia Smith, executive director of the National Association of Community Health Workers to moderate an Art and Social Activism Instagram Live panel discussion, “Covid-19 and America’s long history of inequality.”

“Art and Social Activism is a festival that features art by artists who connect their work to social issues. I’ve been a curator and been working with them since Fall 2019. I moderated a discussion with Denise, Exec. Dir. of The National Association of Community Health Workers as well as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Health. We centered the conversation on systemic racism, Reparations and equity and connected the neglect of Black and Indigenous communities to the results we are seeing with Covid-19.” – Courtney Miller, Citizen Action Community Organizer

One of the best things about the community we have is how everyone comes together when the chips are down. Our Southern Tier chapter is hosting a Mutual Aid Community Drive every Tuesday and Thursday at our Binghamton Office. Call (607) 723-0110 for more information.

Our regional chapters are organizing to address the ongoing housing crisis amid Covid-19. Our Central New York chapter launched a petition in support of a rent relief resolution by Utica Common Council member Celeste Friend and Delvin Moody. The petition has 333 signatures since I last checked. The Council unanimously approved the resolution.

Utica is receiving $1.48 million in Emergency Resolutions Grants funding from the federal government and the Council is urging the city to use those funds to help avoid a spike in homelessness after the pandemic. The chapter also launched a letter campaign urging the Mayor to move forward on the resolution, and on Wednesday, April 22, held a virtual gathering to discuss the campaign and how Covid-19 has increased the need for housing.

Also on Wednesday, Lunch with Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC), our affiliate organization, also took place. The panel discussed structural racism and health disparities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Check here to watch the video.

On Tuesday, April 21, our Capital Region chapter participated in Come in Your Cars to Stop Death Before Bars.” The car rally was hosted by Capital Area Against Incarceration and VOCAL-NY to call on Governor Cuomo to use his power to grant clemency to New York’s aging and vulnerable populations during the pandemic.

Photo by Shawn Young,Citizen Action Capital Region Community Organizer

On Saturday, April 11, Sam Rini and Ravi Mangla, our political education program managers, held a virtual workshop on challenging the dominant narrative amid Covid-19. The way we speak and even the way we think about one another matters now more than ever.

On Thursday, April 8, we joined more than 50 parents, students and advocates, including the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) for an Education Roundtable.

On April 8, Our Hudson Valley chapter partnered with Citizens for Local Power and Cornell Cooperative Extension for a workshop to help residents learn more about energy costs. The workshop consisted of an overview of a local energy bill, resources for alleviating energy bill stress and a Q&A period with experts from the Cornell Cooperative Extension. For more information, contact Hudson Valley Community Organizer Fanon Frazier at ffraizer@citizenactionny.org.

On Saturday, April 4, our Political Education Managers Sam and Ravi hosted a panel discussion on the importance of creating a new economic system that puts people before profits, unlike capitalism. Capital Region Community Organizer Amy Jones spoke about the importance of cooperative economics and the organizing she’s doing with voixnoire.com to assist families in their greatest time of need.


Upcoming Events

Monday, April 27 at 6-8 p.m. – Citizen Action Town Hall Hosted in Buffalo: Join us for a Know Your Rights tenants workshop. Hear from Tenants’ Rights Attorney Adam Bojak for Assembly, Citizen Action endorsed candidate, and Citizen Action Community Organizer Christian Pera & Vice President Jim Anderson! Join us: https://bit.ly/TenantsRightsTownHall. Learn more on Facebook here.

Thursday, April 30 at 1 and 7 p.m. – Tenants Move Together: From Private Pain to Public Power: Citizen Action of New York’s Southern Tier chapter is joining Bimghamton Tenants United, Broome Community Land Trust and PLOT: Progressive Leaders Of Tomorrow for a virtual meeting where tenants can come together, share stores, and learn about movements across the county to take action for #HomesGuaranteed. Learn more here.

Monday, May 4 at 6 p.m. – Join us for an interactive workshop, “Turning Stories into Power”: Learn what makes a compelling story, and begin turning your own stories into power! RSVP here: https://cit.ac/Stories


Join the Movement

Citizen Action of New York is building power in communities across the state. Our members are the reason we’re able to do effective grassroots organizing and achieve justice for our communities. Our members give what they can when they can, and each contribution is directly invested in local leadership development. Click here to support. There are many ways to get involved right now. Click here to contact a Citizen Action chapter in your area and ask how you can get involved locally.

Stay Connected

Tweet us! For live updates, follow our statewide Twitter page. And if you’re looking for cool articles, memes and a little conversation, like us on Facebook here.

Closing message:

“Many hands make light work.” – African Proverb