I hope this message finds you well. It’s been another active week across New York State as thousands rally for education and civil rights. There was much love and solidarity among activists this Labor Day weekend, from Citizen Action members and leaders protesting police brutality in Rochester, to many rallying in Albany in support of New York nurses receiving a fair contract.
This week, some schools reopened for virtual and in-person classes, and Governor Cuomo is still threatening to cut school aid by 20 percent. New York’s school districts have already started to make devastating cuts. Making more cuts to already underfunded schools just doesn’t add up. New York still has an obligation to ensure all students, no matter their zip code, get a quality education. Balancing the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable has always been a tactic of the Cuomo administration, but at a time where so much is on the line, we cannot afford to divest money from our schools. If Black lives matter; if we’re to truly live up to our reputation as a progessive state, then we must raise taxes on the billionaires whose profits have soared during the pandemic. These are the same people who have historically looted our communities. We need economic equity now. We need racial justice and environmental justice! As we fight to heal ourselves and our communities, we the people, simply will not tolerate anything less.
So many of us are heading into the November 3 elections with these issues at the forefront of our concerns. It’s hard to imagine that things can get any worse, but I know they can. We must VOTE on November 3. Requests to vote by mail are being accepted online and by mail until October 27. You can request a ballot online here, or download the application in English or Spanish here and mail it in. Early voting will start on October 25 through November 1.
This week’s Leader Spotlight goes to Pamela Kim in Rochester, who was recently appointed as one of two Rochester representatives to the Citizen Action state board. On Monday, Pamela participated in a demonstration outside of the city’s Public Safety Building to demand accountability for the death of Daniel Prude. Pamela is passionate about ending institutional and systemic racism and addressing issues of adoption, mental health and immigration.
Pamela has been a volunteer with the Rochester chapter for about two years and has been integrally involved with the education committee. She has emceed and tabled events, done social media outreach, and so much more. She said her own lived experience drives her activism. As a Korean adoptee, Pamela is working to shift the mainstream narrative around transracial and transnational adoption. She said she was invited to join Citizen Action by the chapter’s lead organizer, Mercedes Phelan. “She is such an inspiration and an incredible leader who puts her body on the line and fights with the people, particularly Black and brown people,” Pamela said of Mercedes. Pamela shared the following line from a poem by Warsan Shire: “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” This is something she said she wishes everyone understood about immigrants and refugees.
Around the State
“Stop the Cuts” Education Rally
This week’s statewide education rallies to protect New York schools kicked off with the Alliance for Quality Education in NYC on Tuesday. There will be more actions taking place on Saturday, September 12. Cutting billions from schools, especially from schools in communities that have been devastated by the pandemic, is unconscionable. We must continue to oppose these cuts! Find an event near you here: https://cit.ac/stopcuomocuts.
Photos from the rally in NYC found on the AQE twitter page.
Rochester Town Hall on Community Safety & Policing
The Rochester uprising to demand justice for Daniel Prude has sparked national attention, and re-energized conversations about policing in underserved communities. This week, leaders in Rochester held a virtual community Town Hall on Policing and Public Health. Click here to watch the Town Hall in case you missed it.
Capital Region Perry Awards
Our Capital District Chapter held its annual Jim Perry Progressive Leadership Awards. On Thursday, September 10. This year’s honorees are Laura Felts, executive director of United Tenants of Albany; Lisa Good, founder of Urban Grief; Angela Warner, director of social justice ministries at St. Vincent de Paul Church; and Bhawin Suchak and Darian Henry, co-founders of YouthFX. The ceremony was streamed live via Zoom from the Capital District Latinos in Albany. Virtual attendees gathered in chat rooms and watched the ceremony together. For more than two decades, the Perry Awards have supported the chapter’s work to end mass incarceration, fully fund our schools and hold corporate polluters accountable.
Climate and Racial Justice Panel
This week, I co-hosted a panel with Catherine Spokic, chair of the Sierra Club New York City chapter, titled “Climate Crisis, Racial Justice, Decolonization: Making the Connections.” Tanzania Hughie, Citizen Action statewide board member, and Bob Cohen, Citizen Action policy director, were panlists. Tanzania spoke about decolonization and overcoming historical trauma in the Black community. Days before the panel, Tanzania was in Rochester with fellow activists demanding justice for Daniel Prude. Bob presented on the impacts of environmental racism, the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and the upcoming Climate and Community Investment Act.
#GetCounted in the 2020 Census
The deadline to complete the 2020 Census is fast approaching! The census counts every person in the United States, and the results shape how billions of federal dollars flow in for the next decade in our communities. If you haven’t already, you can still complete the 2020 Census by clicking this link! The deadline is September 30!
Mail your survey, or visit 2020Census.gov to get yours done today! It takes less than 10 minutes and is fully confidential. You can also email Sheilah at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or need help. We’re building a team of volunteers to make sure our communities receive the funding we need.
Saturday, September 12
Statewide Education Day of Action
11 a.m. – Rally Against Cuomo’s Cuts
65 Court Street, Buffalo – Mahoney State Office Building
11:30 a.m. – Caravan to Stop The Cuts and Rally for Public Schools
Departs from the New York State Museum Parking Lot, 222 Madison Ave, Albany
12:30 p.m. – Press Conference
89 Washington Ave, Albany – State Education Department,
4:30 p.m.- Rally at the Governor’s Mansion
138 Eagle Street, Albany
Rome and Utica
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Car Caravan & Speak Out Starting at 100 N James St, Rome – Fort Stanwix Monument; car caravan ends at 207 Genesee St, Utica – State Office Building.
12:30 p.m. – Rally to Stop Cuomo’s Cuts
403 Broadway, Kingston – Kingston High School
9:30 a.m. – Speak Out to Stop School Cuts
400 Andrews Street, Rochester,
Saturday, September 12 at 7:30 – 10 p.m.
Upstate Uprising: Black Lives Matter Rally & March Binghamton
Citizen Action is joining community organizations for this rally in support of Black Lives, which will be at the Corner of Main Street and Walnut Street in Binghamton. Mask and social distancing required. For more information, click here.
Tuesday, September 15 at 5 p.m.
#DemandJustice Virtual Kickoff
Join the Citizen Action Hudson Valley Chapter for the #DemandJustice Committee’s virtual kick off! The committee will discuss the next steps for ensuring that the Ulster County Jail divestment turns to community investment. Clyanna Lighbourn, our statewide civil rights organizer, and Sam Rini, our political educator, will facilitate a conversation on re-imagining public safety. Click here to register.
Tuesday, October 6 at 6 p.m.
“Our Everyday Heroes Awards”
Join us for the “Our Everyday Heroes Awards” on Tuesday, October 6! The Everyday Heroes Awards is our largest annual awards ceremony, but due to the challenges of Covid-19, we have decided to celebrate virtually this year. This year’s theme is “Democracy for All.” Click here to register.
There’s still time for you to join our host committee! During the largest civil rights uprising in U.S. history, let’s celebrate our social justice movements and leaders on the frontlines. We have a lot of work to do heading into this election. Click here to join the host committee for Our Everyday Heroes Awards.
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.
“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.” – Marianne Williamson