Reflections on Moral Monday Georgia
By Becky Rafter, Executive Director
On March 18, 2014, Georgia helped make history: the successful rise of the Moral Monday movement in Georgia. Referred to as “the new North Carolina”, Georgia is positioned to birth a new, powerful political voice in the region that will echo throughout the country and even the world. Through our WeCount! program, Georgia WAND, along with and our partners, will register and mobilize voters in record numbers in 2014 and throughout the next few years.
We also stepped out for Moral Monday because so many Georgia WAND members showed up since the inception, which showed us that we were on the right track.
We were thrilled to help build this movement with Moral Monday coalition partners including Jobs with Justice, Concerned Black Clergy, Georgia NAACP, The coalition for the People's Agenda, American Friends Service Committee, Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Senator Vincent Fort and many more, lending our hands to the collective work.
Courtney Hanson, Director of Organizing and Communications, contributed to the 12-point platform and attended initial meetings; Becky Rafter, Executive Director, spoke out in front of the cameras against Stand Your Ground. Amanda Hill-Attkisson, Program Director, spoke at the press conference to protect voting rights and Emilia Kaiser, Program and Development Associate, took at arrest by participating in civil disobedience.
Georgia WAND also provided behind the scenes work and support, including attending planning meetings, offering strategy support, doing jail solidarity, providing meeting space, creating signage and providing art-making space and supplies, outreaching to, updating and recruiting Georgia WAND constituents about actions and providing critical social media support. In the last week of the legislative session, we focused on social media and helped get the hashtag, #riseupGA, to trend on Twitter, which received well over 2 million impressions and generated over 1,000 calls demanding Medicaid Expansion to Governor Deal’s office. Most importantly, we garnered national media attention by helping execute a well-coordinated wave of 39 arrests at the Georgia capitol on March 18, 2014.
People willing to take arrest for civil disobedience – sacrificing their bodies for the cause – shed light on the racist, sexist, unjust and unfair laws being passed by Georgia political majority. One Senator actually referred to the arrestees as “fecal matter”. The national and local media attention is a critical component of helping steer national attention, analysis, resources, support and hope to the state, as well as compelling Georgians to rise up and make their voices heard. Only by getting the average citizens, people like you and me, to utilize their rights and demand fair treatment, will Georgia become a political powerhouse state. And what’s good for Georgia is good for the South. And as Project South and Grantmakers for Southern Progress remind us, “As the South goes, so goes the nation” – W.E.B. du Boise.
Moving forward, Georgia WAND foresees that Moral Monday will first determine what few* good things we can take from the 2013-2014 legislative session, then begin strategizing for next session, debrief our successes and growing edges as a movement, invite larger participation and input in how to build from the robust platform we’ve begun, build out a deeper justice lens in the work to more fully center women, immigrants, poor people and LGBTQ communities, with a continued focus on issues that disproportionately affect African Americans, rural communities, youth and middle- and lower- income people, introduce Moral Monday Georgia in cities, towns and communities throughout the state, network with burgeoning Moral Mondays in the south and perhaps build out international solidarity components.
Georgia WAND is extremely proud to be a part of Moral Monday Georgia, and all of the coalitions and partnerships, on the ground and in the funder community, we are a part of. Together, we are making a difference for Georgians, ourselves and the Earth.