Youth

Nationwide Ferguson Protests Don't Halt For the Holidays

(Mo. Die-In: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson; DC Die-In: Flickr/Joe Newman)
T hanksgiving in America is a hallowed tradition; Thursday is for eating the traditional dinner of turkey and mashed potatoes, and the next day is for the frenzy of commerce known as Black Friday. But this year, the holiday weekend looked a little bit different, as protesters across the nation leveraged the rituals that kick off the holiday season to call for racial justice. After St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch announced on Monday night that no charges would be filed against Darren Wilson—the white officer who shot and killed unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August—protests erupted in major cities throughout the United States. And the ever-vigilant protesters were not going to let Thanksgiving celebrations stop them from being heard. If anything, they used the holiday as an opportunity to call attention to their cause. On Tuesday, protests were organized in New York City, Washington D.C, Los Angeles, Nashville, Minneapolis, Atlanta,...

To Save the Right to Choose Nationwide, Reproductive Justice Advocates Need a Southern Strategy

A new amendment to Tennessee's Constitution lays a framework for ending abortion rights. If allowed to stand, women and girls in poor communities will suffer the most. 

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) Signs outside a polling place support different opinions on an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee. The amendment would expand the power of legislators to pass more abortion regulations. T his past Election Day, the people of Tennessee awoke to a state in which the right to an abortion is no longer secure. Amendment 1 to the state constitution could mean that politicians soon vote to take away the right within the state. The passage of Amendment 1 gives politicians far-reaching power to restrict many forms of birth control and abortion. Most ominously, if Roe v. Wade were ever overturned, the passage of Amendment 1 lays the groundwork to eliminate all abortion access in Tennessee. In the run-up to the election, anti-choice politicians in the state masked their strategy to eliminate abortion access by framing their position as an issue of free speech, saying the voters had been silenced by a decision by...

We Let Bill Cosby Into Our Homes, So He Owes Us an Explanation

America's once-favorite TV dad needs to take his own advice.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Entertainer and former classmate Bill Cosby speaks during a public memorial service for Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz Wednesday, June 4, 2014, at Temple University in Philadelphia. W hile the natural inclination is to separate Bill Cosby’s television character from his real life persona, the show we remember so fondly was not called The Huxtable Show . It was The Cosby Show . We did not really welcome Heathcliff into our homes. We welcomed Bill. It is Cosby, the accused serial rapist of 15 women from whom we await an explanation. He has the time: His planned NBC project was just pulled in the face of these resurfaced allegations. He won’t be cashing any residual checks from shows streamed on Netflix because like any contagion, everything Cosby is associated with is now contaminated. This reckoning particularly stings because of Cosby’s decades-long campaign of respectability politics within the black community. For years he has offered a socially...

How Democrats Can Win Back the White Working Class and Increase Turnout Among Blacks and Latinos

(Photo: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr/Creative Commons License)
(Photo: CNV Sioux Falls, SD Action via Flickr) Demonstrators in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, urge fellow citizens to vote for the November 4 ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage. The demonstration took place on Saturday, September 27. T he voting turnout in this year's congressional and gubernatorial elections was the lowest since 1942. Much of the story was in young people, poor people, black and Hispanic citizens, who tend to support Democrats, voting in far lower numbers than in 2008 or 2012. The Democrats just weren't offering them very much. But the other part of the Election Day story was older voters and the white working class, especially men, deserting the Democrats in droves—again, because Democrats didn't seem to be offering much. Republicans, at least, were promising lower taxes. Turnout on average dropped from 2012 by a staggering 42 percent. But as Sam Wang reported in a post-election piece for The American Prospect , the drop-off was evidently worse for Democrats...

Watch Party Dispatch: High Schoolers From Across the Country Want Change Now

For one thing, they're more concerned with voting rights than the behind-the-scenes details of national politics.

Close Up Foundation
T he Hamilton Live, a Washington, D.C., nightclub, is unrecognizable on election night. One hundred twenty-two high school students from 11 states, not to mention the 30 from Mexico, fill the bottom floor of the Hamilton usually packed for late night R&B and blues. This watch party is the culmination of the second day of an election week program run by the Close Up Foundation, an organization that seeks to teach students to be engaged citizens. The atmosphere is fairly sedate for a room full of teenagers away from their parents on a school night. They don’t react to the projections coming in on the big screen in front of them. To their credit, they’re focused on speakers Matt Robbins, of the conservative organizing non-profit American Majority, and Christian Dorsey, of the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute, presenting a Republican and Democrat point of view, respectively. Robbins keeps asking if the students have questions about how things really run in Washington. Although...

Watch Party Dispatch: At Howard University, Mentors Challenge Young Activists' Ideas of Victory

For the African-American community, given all the obstacles, an uptick in turnout can be a victory in and of itself.

(Ayanna Alexander)
Ayanna Alexander Signs decorate the Howard University meeting room where the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation and the Black Women's Roundtable gathered students for a midterm election results watch party on November 4, 2014 A s the midterm results rolled in, what was projected by the oddsmakers came to pass. Some mixed emotions, but mostly utter disappointment over the GOP takeover, filled all of my social media feeds. I took my solace in the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation's Unity Election Night and its "What Say You" political conversation on the campus of Howard University, the historically black institution where I attend college. Attendees ranged in age from 18 to 50-something, and each person in the room seemed determined to stay positive in her comments, despite any qualms about what the new political landscape could mean for America, and especially for the lives of African Americans. At the beginning of the evening, most of those gathered...

Watch Party Dispatch: Undaunted By Grim Outcomes, Pro-Choicers Gather to Plot the Future

They had hoped for a better night, but they're already thinking ahead to 2016.

(Kristen Doerer)
Kristen Doerer Young pro-choice Democratic activists gather at Local 16, a Washington, D.C., bar, to watch election results of the midterms on November 4, 2014. W alking into the Local 16 bar on U Street in Northwest DC, I was surprised to hear the buzz of an energized crowd. I was, after all, walking into a Women’s Informational Network, also known as WIN, Election Day watch party. The stormy forecast for Democratic candidates and the recent attacks on abortion rights doesn’t necessarily lend hope to WIN, a political and social network of young, pro-choice, Democratic women. Local 16, a popular weekend destination for young professionals, is a dimly lit bar. Red walls and warm orange lights resembling rustic chandeliers lent a cozy quality to the room. An overwhelmed bartender moved quickly behind the counter, taking happy hour orders. CNN played on two different screens, the sounds of which were drowned out by the hum of a crowded bar. With happy hour extended to 10:00 p.m., the WIN...

Will Black Millennials, Faced With Voting Restrictions, Turn Out On Election Day?

North Carolina is closing college polling places. Texas has a forbidding ID law. Ohio curtailed early voting. For African-American students, the obstacles are mounting.

©Jenny Warburg
©Jenny Warburg The North Carolina NAACP’s Moral Freedom Summer organizers, shown here at a Raleigh protest, fanned out across the state to register and educate voters in advance of the November 2014 elections. F rom­ the onset of early voting for 2014 midterm elections, new voting restrictions—inspired by Jim Crow-era poll tests say voting rights experts—began creating havoc nationwide. Not only will this year’s midterms determine which political party controls the U.S. Senate, they’re also critical because contests for 36 governors’ mansions, 435 congressional seats, and the offices of other local officials are on the ballot. This year, it appears there’s a group targeted for exclusion from the voter rolls: minority millennials. In the past two presidential elections, the youth minorities voted heavily, arguably putting President Barack Obama in office. Off-year elections typically see a steep drop-off in turnout; the 2010 midterm election turnout rate for registered young voters (18...

We Know College Feminists Care About Sexual Assault. But What About Abortion?

For many students attending schools in East and West Coast states, the legislative efforts to restrict abortion access commonly found in red states can seem quite distant from their own daily gender struggles.

(Cori Austin, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri)
I n the past three years, more abortion restrictions have been enacted in the United States than in the entire previous decade . At the same time, 85 colleges and universities are now under federal investigation for their handling of sexual violence. While these two issues are not divergent, campus feminists have devoted much of their energy to challenging their universities’ failure to adequately handle sexual assault cases—often at the expense of abortion rights advocacy. But the growing threats to reproductive justice— like the Texas law that could shut down most of the state’s abortion clinics, and looming ballot measures in Colorado, Tennessee, and North Dakota that could result in women losing their legal right to terminate a pregnancy—have catalyzed the ongoing efforts of national pro-choice organizations to invest in student leaders. Campus activist priorities and national women’s rights goals might finally be aligning—sort of. For many students attending schools in East and...

At Religious Right Gathering, Dubious Plan Emerges for Recapturing the Presidency

At the Values Voter Summit, politicians were told that the path to victory is in promoting issues that turn out to alienate young people and women.

©A.M. Stan
©A.M. Stan Ted Cruz, U.S. senator from Texas, addresses the Values Voter Summit on September 26, 2014. O n Friday and Saturday, conservative politicians and activists descended upon Washington, D.C.'s Omni Shoreham Hotel, for the Values Voter Summit—a conference in which the religious right comes together to talk about what its members deem to be our nation’s real problems, like the ostensible persecution of Christians by the Obama administration, ISIL fighters said to be crouching on our Southern border and, of course, how to ensure that Republicans start winning national elections again without betraying the social-conservative cause. For those vying for the GOP presidential nomination, the annual event convened by FRC Action, the political arm of the Family Research Council, is often seen as a command performance. This year’s featured speakers included United States Senators Ted Cruz of Texas (who won the Values Voter presidential straw poll) and Rand Paul of Kentucky, Louisiana...

The Politics of Pre-K: How A Program Known to Help Poor Mothers Could Doom Your Candidacy

When the emphasis is kept on how it's good for business, early-childhood education is popular. Just don't call it childcare. 

(AP Photo/The Monitor, Gabe Hernandez)
(AP Photo/The Monitor, Gabe Hernandez) I n Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race, education has emerged as one of the most heated issues. A Quinnipiac University poll released this month found education ranked as the most important issue for voters, after jobs and the economy. Despite contentious politics surrounding reform of public education from kindergarten through twelfth grade, Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf have discovered that plugging expansion of pre-kindergarten programs wins them political points without treading into treacherous waters. That is, as long as they don't mention the mothers who will inevitably benefit, too. The governor’s record is haunted by his 2011 budget, from which he cut nearly $900 million in public education funds—a decrease of more than 10 percent. The severe cuts have garnered national attention , particularly for Philadelphia—the state’s largest school district—which wrestled with a $304 million cut this past school...

Congress Didn't Pay a Lot to Go to College: Today's Students Shouldn't Either

Building photo: Architect of the Capitol - Dome: Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress
Architect of the Capitol This article originally appeared on the website of Demos . O ne of the oldest attack lines in politics is that a candidate or elected official is “out of touch” with the American people. The phrase, deployed often and by both parties, is often used to outline how a statement, voting record, or ideology is on the minority side of public opinion. In other cases, it’s used to target legislators who have served several terms, inferring that their tenure in office has left them too cozy and unresponsive to the needs of constituents. In the case of both Mitt Romney and John Kerry , it was used to infer that the very life experiences of a candidate left them out of touch with those of the “everyday American.” It’s designed to remove any and all appearances of empathy from the equation. In some cases, it’s actually true. Look no further than the cost of higher education. This week, the Senate was expected to (but looks like it no longer will) vote on a bill to allow...

Still Nader After All These Years

(AP Photo/George Ruhe, File)
(AP Photo/George Ruhe, File) In this April 27, 2008, file photo, Ralph Nader speaks to supporters as he campaigns for his 2008 independent presidential bid in Waterbury, Connecticut. F or many Democrats who came of age after 2000, Ralph Nader is a crank who cost Al Gore the presidency. But Nader deserves a more honored place in the progressive pantheon. Over the years, Nader has understood the stranglehold of corporate power on democracy as well as anyone, and throughout his career he has creatively organized counterweights. In the heyday of postwar reform, the 1960s and 1970s, Nader-inspired groups prodded and energized Congressional allies to enact one piece of pro-consumer legislation after another. As both a journalist and senior Senate staffer in that era, I can attest that nobody did it better than Nader. Since then, Nader has been a prophet, often without honor in his own coalition. I should add that I go back a long way with Ralph Nader. When I was in Washington, D.C., in the...

I'm Polite, Middle-Class and Harassed By Police. Here's Why.

The targeting of citizens by authorities based on racial stereotypes is a serious issue that needs refocusing—an issue that needs to be looked at starting from the root and not the leaf.

(AP Photo/The Progress-Index, Patrick Kane)
(AP Photo/The Progress-Index, Patrick Kane) I was eighteen, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was dark, and I was driving with my sister when I got pulled over by the police. We were visiting relatives in Mississippi and had just left our cousins’ house, heading back to an aunt’s house to meet up with our parents. My mother had let us go out for a drive in her car, a red Eddie Bauer Edition Ford Explorer. Driving in that car, I felt a certain level of freedom and prestige. So, being the teenagers that we were, music blasting, rehashing the night’s events with each other, my sister and I made our way back, feeling carefree. We stopped at a stop sign, then proceeded to go forward when a police siren from across the street grew louder, as a squad car sped toward us. Not thinking that it was me they were after, I slowed down to let the cop car pass me. When the policeman turned on his horn and shot his light toward our car, I immediately froze. We were in the Deep South, two...

Court Rules NC Voting Rights Rollback to Stay In Place Until After Midterm Elections

Since taking control of state government in 2011, Republicans rolled back North Carolina's progressive voting laws. A new regime of fewer voting days and voter ID requirements will be in place for November's legislative and congressional elections.

©Jenny Warburg
©JennyWarburg While a federal judge in Winston-Salem heard testimony about North Carolina’s new voting restrictions last month, activists gathered at a nearby plaza to protest the law. A federal judge has temporarily authorized North Carolina to implement a sweeping new law that threatens to reduce access to the polls, particularly for African-American, Latino, and young voters. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, is an early test of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision, which overturned key parts of the Voting Rights Act. In 2000, North Carolina started rolling out efforts to make it easier to register and vote, only to yank those efforts back thirteen years later. When the state legislature was controlled by Democrats, it authorized counties to conduct up to seventeen days of early voting, including Sunday voting, which enabled black churches to transport parishioners to the polls. It also allowed citizens to register and...

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