A Time to Celebrate and to Recommit
17 November 2020
When we follow the lead of the people most impacted by injustice, we all win a more just society. This truth motivates our work at FJS every day, and we are overjoyed that the whole world just witnessed truth in action.
In a critical election where democracy itself was at stake, a majority took a stand against authoritarianism, racism, and misogyny in exchange for a new vision of hope. And it was broad and deep organizing by Black women, Indigenous and Latinx women, women of color, and LGBTQI people that got out the vote in record numbers, despite long lines and a pandemic that has disrupted everything and put lives and livelihoods at risk. Communities and movements that have spent the last several years under attack showed up to demand the very possibility to advance social justice without the threat of state violence or reprisal.
Across the country, a Black-led, multiracial feminist coalition of grassroots organizations mobilized votes to protect democracy, to uphold fairness and equity, and to create more avenues to turn this society toward justice, healing, and liberation. We are in awe of our grantee partners in the US Southeast and beyond who played leading roles in this historic shift, and those who are paving the way for a growing progressive majority in their states. From organizations like the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, ProGeorgia, and Puente Human Rights Movement (Arizona), to regional groups including the Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute and Southerners on New Ground (SONG), to national organizations like the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), National Domestic Workers Alliance, Mijente, 9to5, Transgender Law Center, and the Women’s March, we witnessed incredible collaborations intent on strengthening our democracy by supporting mass participation. These organizations and their coalition partners mobilized hundreds of thousands of voters, including many first-time voters; addressed barriers to participation for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic; and built sophisticated civic engagement strategies rooted in the values of racial, gender, and economic justice.
Working together, grassroots movements succeeded in engaging diverse communities to participate in envisioning a new future. They also knew this wasn't—and isn't—just about one moment or one election. Movements responded to an urgent need while also embracing the moment as an opportunity to grow and build power for the long term. We think of organizations like Women with a Vision and BreakOUT! in Louisiana, the MS Black Women’s Roundtable and the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, One Fair Wage, and United for Respect, whose power-building work in this election season is going to shift the dynamic for years to come. The extraordinary work that so many grassroots organizations did this year has opened the next chapter in the ongoing struggle for a society where everyone is equally valued.
This moment proves that multiracial progressive power building in the South, and long-term investments in the leadership of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx women and LGBTQI people, strengthens democracy and transforms our entire society. Progressive grassroots movements are bigger than ever and ready to move forward together. So are we. While we celebrate and honor the incredible victories movements have achieved, we wholeheartedly recommit to supporting movements and organizations led by the women, girls, and LGBTQI people most affected by injustice, most overlooked by traditional philanthropy, and most likely to have the solutions that transform our world. These movements are transforming our world, and we hope other funders will join us in ensuring they have the resources they need to harness the momentum of this moment and continue creating the world we all want to see.