It is clear that major changes are coming with the November 3 election, but none of us is able to say with certainty exactly what those changes will be. We do know this, however. Action by informed social justice advocates will be as absolutely essential on November 4 as it is today. Individuals and organizations must mobilize our networks and our neighbors to take action throughout the remainder of 2020 and in 2021 to promote access to basic human needs, compassionate and smart criminal justice reform, and other evidence-based public policy.
We also know that ending structural racism and confronting white supremacy in every form must go to the top of our priorities list. This has been abundantly clear for years to some who are reading this, but many others received wake-up calls in 2020 regarding racism. It is shocking that anyone would fail to be awake, given glaring disparities in COVID-19 illness and deaths, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others by police without swift accountability, the racially skewed data about current food and housing insecurity, and a sitting president’s refusal to condemn white supremacist organizations in the September 29 debate.
Normally Empower Missouri would be having an annual conference on the Saturday after the election as a way to prepare our network to advocate in the next Legislative Session. COVID-19 makes it unwise for us to hold a face-to-face convening this year, and it may take a few days for the smoke to clear to know which administrations will be taking power in January, 2021. Because of this, Empower Missouri is hosting a “Racial Equity Summit” online on Friday, November 20 from 12-2 p.m., as a way to engage social-justice minded people in the ongoing justice work that must be done post-election.
We are delighted that Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, a national thought leader in racial justice, community organizing, and movement building, will be the keynote speaker for this gathering. Rev. Dr. Wilson is a pastor, philanthropist and activist, completing his tenure as CEO and president of the Deaconess Foundation in St. Louis. As you may know, he has been recently called as CEO and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, succeeding the amazing Marian Wright Edelman who has inspired so many of us.
Thanks to a Platinum Level Co-Sponsorship by Maxine Clark and Bob Fox of St. Louis, we will be able to offer free registration to participants of the Racial Equity Summit. Register today HERE. Co-sponsoring organizations have opportunities to share an announcement and invite attendees to join in your efforts during the concluding segment of the Summit. For complete details, email me at Jeanette@EmpowerMissouri.org.
It is absolutely vital that social-justice-minded people educate themselves about the issues on the November 3 ballot and vote! You can learn more about voting safely during the pandemic, researching ballot measures and judges, and why you should vote No on Amendment 3 by watching this video of our September 17 Empowering You Webinar.
But we must quickly come together after General Election Day and begin to mobilize to secure victories that will end what Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of the Poor People’s Campaign terms “policy violence.” We are unified in our belief that Black Lives Matter. This must finally be enacted in local, state, and federal policy. Rev. Dr. Barber often says: “When we come together, we win.” Yes, we do. Let’s get started toward those victories at the Racial Equity Summit on November 20.
Jeanette Mott Oxford
Director of Policy and Organizing