Daily Grab Back

We March for Her, Part One

When the Women’s March on Washington released its “Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles” document this week, we at Daily Grab Back were pleased with the inclusivity and progressivism of the platform. In addition to recognizing the need for intersectionality and a particular focus on the needs and struggles of Black, Native, poor, immigrant, Muslim, queer and trans women, the platform also lists 27 revolutionary leaders that have paved the way for this march as having a special place of honor for #WhyWeMarch.    

Bella Abzug • Corazon Aquino • Ella Baker • Grace Lee Boggs • Berta Cáceres • Rachel Carson • Shirley Chisholm • Angela Davis • Miss Major Griffin-Gracy • LaDonna Harris • Dorothy I. Height • bell hooks • Dolores Huerta • Marsha P. Johnson • Barbara Jordan • Yuri Kochiyama • Winona LaDuke • Audre Lorde • Wilma Mankiller • Diane Nash • Sylvia Rivera • Barbara Smith • Gloria Steinem • Hannah G. Solomon • Harriet Tubman • Edith Windsor • Malala Yousafzai

Believing we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about these women and the contributions and sacrifices they made in the fight for justice and freedom, DGB will be running a special five part series in the days leading up to the Women’s March on Washington honoring these remarkable and heroic women.

Bella Abzug

Bella Abzug was a women’s and civil rights activist, lawyer and politician. A child of Russian Jewish immigrants, she grew up in the Bronx. After getting her law degree at Columbia University, Bella practiced labor and civil rights law. She defended Willie McGee, a Black man who was accused of raping a white woman in Mississippi and fought to appeal his death sentence and delay his execution. She also defended many people accused of communism by Senator Joseph McCarthy. She was involved in antinuclear and peace activism, as well as women’s rights activism and helped establish the National Women’s Political Caucus with Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971 and served 3 terms where she became known as a fearless and outspoken champion of women’s and civil rights. We march for her.

Read more about Bella Abzug here.

Corazon Aquino

Corazon Aquino was the first female president of the Philippines. After graduating from college in the United States, Cory became a mother of five and wife to Benigno Aquino, a senator and outspoken opponent of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. In the 1970s, her husband was imprisoned, exiled, and upon his return to the Philippines in 1983, assassinated. Cory took on the role of leader of the opposition after her husband’s death, eventually running against Marcos in his attempt to legitimize his presidency in 1986. When she lost, amid widespread suspicion of voter fraud, she led a peaceful protest movement that became known as the People Power Revolution. Within weeks, Marcos relinquished power and fled the country, and Corazon Aquino became president of the Philippines. As President she created a constitutional commission to draft a new constitution, promoted civil liberties and human rights and began to restore economic health to the Philippines. Cory declined to run again in 1992, preferring to send the strong message that President should not be a lifetime position. We march for her.

Read more about Corazon Aquino here.

Ella Baker

Ella Baker was a Black civil rights activist who worked with many prominent people and organizations during the Civil Rights movement. Born in Norfolk, VA, in 1903, Ella grew up with a close relationship to her grandmother, who had been a slave. She graduated as valedictorian of Shaw University and moved to New York where she started the Young Negroes’ Cooperative League, a group which allowed Black workers to pool their money to get better access to goods and services. She became the national field secretary for the NAACP, eventually becoming the national director of branches. In 1957, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Ella became the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership conference, and through her work there the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was created, as well as the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. We march for her.

Read more about Ella Baker here, or watch Fundi: the Ella Baker Story.

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs was a writer, civil rights activist, and philosopher. She was born in 1915 to Chinese immigrants. She earned a PhD in Philosophy at Bryn Mawr College, but struggled to find work as an academic after her graduation due to the barriers women and minorities faced in the academic world of the 1940s. After joining the Workers Party and working as a tenant organizer, she began what became her lifelong work of fighting for the civil rights of Black Americans. In 1953 she moved to Detroit and married Black activist, writer and auto worker James Boggs. She and her husband worked with Black Power organizers across the country, and later adopted Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence, which she used as a guiding strategy for the rest of her life. She led marches, gave lectures on human rights, planted community gardens and founded food cooperatives, organized workers and co-founded Detroit Summer, a community transformation organization. Prominent written works include “Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century,” “Women and the Movement to Build a New America,” “Living for Change: An Autobiography,” and “The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century.” We march for her.

Read more about Grace Lee Boggs here.

Berta Cáceres

Berta Cáceres was a Honduran environmental activist, a co-founder and coordinator of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, and an indigenous leader of her people. She was born into the the indigenous Lenca people in Le Esparanza, Honduras, around 1971. Her mother was a midwife and humanitarian and cared for the refugees from El Salvador during the turbulent civil war in Central America in the 1970s. As a student in 1993, Berta formed COPINH, which fought against illegal logging, and the presence of the US military on Lenca land. She was a proud feminist and supported LGBT rights, as well as other progressive and indigenous issues. In 2006 Cáceres worked with a group of Lenca people to fight against the constructions of the Agua Zarca Dam on indigenous land. The dam would have cut off water, food, medicines and supplies to the hundreds of indigenous people that called that land home. The national and local government not only did not consult the indigenous people, but also bribed locals for signatures, doctored the minutes of meetings, and lied to make it look like there was overwhelming approval for the dam. Though it took years of hard work and dedication, they were able to stop construction on the dam in 2013. Unfortunately Berta paid with her life in 2016, as many who fight against the corruption of the Honduran government do. We march for her.

Read more about Berta Cáceres here.

 

 

 

Be Heard: Tips for Reaching Your Representatives

By Amy Esther

Every day I read another story from a frustrated, discouraged activist who has been trying to call their elected representative, but reaches only a full voice mailbox or an endless busy tone.

It brings me back to the days when I used to work as a newspaper reporter covering politics and community news around the Philadelphia region. Every week I had to call elected officials or their staff, and most of the time they were none too happy to hear from me.

Since it’s increasingly critical that we make our voices heard, especially to the officials who are supposed to be represent our interests, I thought it might be helpful to share some tactics I used to use to break through the firewall. Most of these require a little time or effort, and a persistent (even aggressive) attitude. But it can be done!

 

1. Do a little research and try to find the names of your representative’s staff, especially those who work in the field offices or specialize in a particular policy area.

 

2. Start by calling every number you can find: don't ask if it's better to call this office or that one - put them all in your phone contacts and just call down the list.

 

3. Get creative: If you get an endless loop of recorded menu items and a full mailbox, start dialing random extensions (try '0' first). As soon as you get someone, take note of what extension worked. If they send you back to the same full mailbox, start calling them back directly and let them know it didn't work. They will quickly realize that you are THEIR problem until they can pass you on to somebody else.

 

4. Get creative, part II: Find out if there is a different office or department housed in the same building. Call them, act confused and asked to be transferred to your  representative’s office. The point here is to make your call an internal transfer within their phone system. (I used to do this when a mayor's office had blacklisted my phone number. Every day I'd call a different department, like waste management, and ask to be transferred. They always pick up for internal calls!)

 

5. Another way to call: Google the representative’s name and find a recent press release. On it will be a number for press inquiries. Call them, and simply say you are with a local group and trying to find the name and extension for the staffer responsible for your issue area (like health care, for example). Write it down, then ask to be transferred, as in #4.

 

6. Use the press: Check your smallest local newspaper for the name of a reporter who has recently covered your representative. Call them up (just call the newsroom and ask by name). Ask the reporter if they can recommend a good person who answers their phone at your representative’s office, and a direct extension. Go ahead and mention that the representative is receiving such an earful from local residents that their main lines are all down. They might even take a quote from you and write it up! Let them know if there are any local protests or demonstrations being organized.

 

7. Show up to public meetings: The Indivisible Guide has some excellent info on how to attend meetings and events, so I highly recommend it. But in addition, remember that there are often opportunities to talk one-on-one with your representative or their staff. After a meeting, they will usually be surrounded by a few buddies or other officials. Just stand in that group, lean in and try to make eye contact. It may feel super awkward, but eventually you’ll find an opening to jump in. (I once had to walk with the group all the way to the representative’s minivan and be the last person standing with him in the parking lot, but eventually he DID acknowledge me.) Their staff may be easier to talk to, so introduce yourself and give those folks an earful, too. Also look for local reporters at the event. They love anecdotes about how a national issue affects your family and community.

 

8. Show up at their offices: Be friendly, but firm. Say something like, "I was having trouble getting through on the phone line, and it's really important to me that I register my opinion with [name of specific staff person]." Hold out and don't just leave a message at the desk. If you have a really bad experience (like security kicks you out), call a local newspaper. Again, they LOVE finding a fresh local angle on a national issue. Finally, if you're going to showing up a lot, I recommend making friends with the receptionist! He or she can help you.

Amy Esther is a guest blogger for Daily Grab Back; views do not necessarily reflect those of DGB.

Thank You!

It’s been two weeks since we posted our first Daily Grab Back and we wanted to thank you all so much for sticking with us. We know that it takes time and effort to read and do our Daily Grabs, but when a group combines their efforts, they tend to have a greater effect. We at DGB truly believe in the power of small actions having a real-world impact. Thank you for sticking with us and we look forward to working and growing with you all in the future.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,”- Margaret Mead

 

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At Daily Grab Back (DGB), we promote action. But not just any action. Each DGB begins with a team that identifies pressing issues threatening our world, our democracy, or any group of people who don’t have a voice.  It is important to us that DGBs address both short-term and long-term goals. These can be actionable items for quick results, such as making a call to stop a bill, or they can shine light on an issue with long-term promotion of engaged and active citizenry. Such longer-term impact DGBs will involve things like local education, expansion of media sources, and support of organizations or businesses that give back to our communities.

Once found, the issues are handed off to our crack Research Team, which triages them by urgency. This is a complex task in such turbulent times. Once they analyze the problem thoroughly they consult with specialists in the field whenever possible to help determine what actions will make maximum impact.

After the Research Team is done putting the DGB structure together, they pass the ball to our Writing Team. This team looks it over and tests it out to ensure we are relying on credible sources and conveying accurate information to our participants. They also flesh out and describe the action in a straightforward way that promotes the urgency of the situation.

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