A word from our Executive Director on the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the action we must take
Yesterday was a dark day in this country's history. The Supreme Court just told women in this country that they are essentially second-class citizens, who don't have the right to control their own bodies. In the past, the court has made rulings that have perpetuated the subjugation of certain groups of people by the states. But this is the first time that the Court has actively taken away a constitutional right that it had previously given. And, as is typical in this country, it will have an especially devastating impact on women of color. Unfortunately, it won't stop with Roe. Marriage equality, access to contraception, interracial marriage, and every other right that is derived from the basic fundamental right to privacy is on the chopping block under this Court. The fight must now move from the courts to the political arena - and not a single one of us can afford to sit this fight out, as many have in the past. It started in 2014 when we failed to turn out for the Midterm Elections. We gave control of the Senate to Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party, who promptly stole a Supreme Court seat from Democrats. It continued into 2016 when our side didn't show up to vote and the country elected Donald Trump, who in turn put in three new Supreme Court Justices, all with the same regressive ideology and all of whom just voted to overturn Roe. Our side needs to turn out like never before in this upcoming Midterm.
WCRJ's sister 501c4 organization, the Center for Racial and Gender Equity (CRGE) and our affiliated Racial Justice PAC are working in Congressional races in Illinois and Wisconsin, to make sure we send people to Congress who will fight to secure full reproductive justice for all, including the right to abortion, access to maternal health care, and the investments needed to care and provide for our children.
I have two important requests to make of you. First, please consider making a donation to our sister 501c4, the Center for Racial and Gender Equity, or to Racial Justice PAC so we have the resources needed to make sure we win at the ballot box in November. Between Illinois and Wisconsin, we will be working on six competitive House races and one Senate race that will determine who controls Congress. If we mobilize progressive-minded voters in both states, and support Wisconsin voters in overcoming active voter suppression attempts, we can help ensure that more power doesn’t fall into anti-democratic hands. Second, please sign up to volunteer to help us knock doors, make phone calls, and send text messages to voters in Illinois and Wisconsin, urging them to vote in November. We need to make multiple contacts with every voter, and work as hard as the situation demands - like our rights depend on it. The decision today was not just an attack on women's reproductive rights, it was an attack on all of the rights that we hold dear. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. Yours in Struggle,
DeAngelo Bester Executive Director
We want to give an update on all of the tireless work that our members and supporters gave during our work in Springfield for this most recently completed legislative session.
The SAFER Communities Act (HB 3215)
Since The SAFER Communities Act was introduced last year, WCRJ has:
Held 62 Digital Action Fridays and 10 Advocacy Phone Banks
Mobilized 137,000 emails to legislators
Placed 1,140 Phone Calls to legislators
Held 4 Legislator of Policy Briefings
Met one-on-one with 83 Legislators
Held 5 Springfield Advocacy Days for our membership
Secured 20 legislative sponsors and 32 endorsing organizations
As a result of our hard work, HB 3215 was adopted in the Judiciary Committee in early April 2022, which made it eligible to be called to the House floor for a vote.
Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming number of bills that were under consideration, The SAFER Communities Act was not called for a vote in the House during this legislative session.
We are currently working with our Policy Steering Committee, the FIP Council, and our partner organizations to come up with next steps, and in the coming months, WCRJ will continue to leverage our base to build support for SAFER in the House and Senate Chambers, in order to pass HB 3215 during veto session later this year and to ensure that it is funded in a supplementary budget for 2023. Victory is still at hand!
Earned Income Credit expansion:
We Won! The Illinois General Assembly passed a budget that included expanding the earned income credit to nearly one million more people that would have otherwise been ineligible. This major accomplishment was a direct result of our work with Economic Security for Illinois, on behalf of the Coalition to Make EIC Work.
WCRJ leaders and members held meetings, spoke with community members, made phone calls to elected officials, and advocated through social media, to make the expansion of the earned income credit a reality in Illinois. It was critical that we engaged through every measure available to us, because so many people were in need of support throughout the state.
The EIC offers tax relief to most workers earning less than $56,000 per year and the potential to earn up to $1,200 (currently) in a refund check. This is money that regular folks need to make ends meet, and helps people that need it most in a tough economy as prices have risen dramatically in recent years.
Moving forward, we will continue working with Economic Security Illinois, along with other organizations across the state, to help families in our communities get the resources they need to not just survive, but to thrive.
Ten years ago on February 1st - at the outset of Black History Month in 2012 - a group of formerly incarcerated Black workers officially launched the Workers Center for Racial Justice in Chicago.
These founding members were united in particular by the dearth of employment opportunities they faced due to their records. Like many others in their communities, they had been forced into the informal economy due to years of community disinvestment and criminalization, as well as discrimination towards Black workers.
They perceived a pressing need for an organization specifically devoted to addressing issues faced by Black workers. They founded WCRJ with a mission to pursue Black Liberation through the "4Ps" - political education, protest, policy advocacy, and politics*, with a focus on those challenges that originate at the intersection of over-criminalization and exclusion from economic opportunity.
In keeping with 501c3 compliance, the "Political" aspect of WCRJ's strategy is pursued through our sister 501c4 organization, the Center for Racial and Gender Equity (CRGE).
In the 10 years since WCRJ was founded, we have built a powerful base of grassroots Black leaders who have devoted their time and resources to making Black History through collective action. They have conceptualized and advanced transformational policies; taken to the streets to protest and disrupt state-sanctioned police violence against Black people and communities; and driven record-breaking Black voter turnout in local, state and national elections.
They have changed the narrative about Black workers, educating communities and policymakers about the true roots of community violence: concentrated poverty and disinvestment, mass incarceration, segregation, discrimination, and lack of economic opportunity.
All throughout 2022, we will be celebrating a decade of progress, and leveraging this milestone to build resources and support for our next 10 years of work. We will be asking each of our supporters to contribute to this effort: by hosting a birthday fundraiser to benefit WCRJ, becoming a 10th anniversary sponsor, attending WCRJ membership meetings and events, and helping to gather petition signatures.
We'll also be asking you to donate to our 10th anniversary campaign with a gift of $100 or more, or a monthly Sustainer gift of $10/month in honor of our 10 years.
For questions about how you can support our 10th Anniversary Campaign, please contact Sarah Wilson, Development Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to celebrating with you this year!
In solidarity and struggle,