Letter from State Voices: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Our Liberation
We stand together, and we will fight for our future and take every step forward that we can. Thank you for being in this struggle with us
Dear State Voices network and supporters,
I am glad to write to you as a member and a supporter of the State Voices network, as an organizational partner in the progressive fight, and as a friend.
I am in mourning with you. On the evening of September 18, the great civil rights shero and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away after a long battle with cancer. Justice Ginsburg was a tireless advocate who fought for gender equality, LGTBQ rights, voting rights, reproductive justice, the rights of non-citizens, people with disabilities, and more.
Justice Ginsburg passed away just before the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year and one of the holiest nights in the Jewish faith. My heart breaks for the family of Justice Ginsburg and for my Jewish friends and colleagues, to lose such an incredible leader and fighter on such a night. To you all I say, may her memory be a blessing.
This year has been filled with more loss than I can fathom. We lost Representative John Lewis and Reverend Joseph Lowery, two giants of civil rights who made history and established a legacy we carry with us. May they rest in power.
Our communities lost so many to police violence, racial injustice, and transphobia. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, Ahmaud Arbery, Mike Ramos. Brayla Stone, Shaki Peters, Toyin Salau, Bree Black. Say their names.
This year even took our artists and athletes like Bill Withers, Kobe Bryant, and Chadwick Boseman, who only two years ago played Black Panther and finally gave our Black children a superhero they could see themselves in.
The days and the possibilities feel darker and less hopeful. When news of Justice Ginsburg’s passing broke on Friday evening, the light at the end of the tunnel seemed somehow further out of reach.
But I must make myself remember: so many of my heroes stood tallest and summoned their greatest courage when there was almost no hope or end in sight.
In 1869, our ancestors secured the 15th amendment giving African American men the right to vote, and yet that right offered no real promise until a century later, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act. We run multi-year civic engagement campaigns, but imagine waiting 96 years between the promise of the vote and the power to protect it. That’s a long timeline! In those 96 years, a long line of incredible organizers had to build their own enduring hope, and keep up the struggle. We inherit this legacy and this determination from our ancestors.
John Lewis endured brutal beatings when he crossed that bridge in Selma. The wounds left permanent scars, but he inspired generations to devote themselves to racial justice and "good trouble." The Montgomery Bus Boycotts lasted 381 days. That’s more than a year of folks walking in the hottest days of summer and coldest days of winter to expose and bankrupt this discriminatory system.
Our ancestors took their moment in time and gave all they could for a better future. This moment is calling on us to do the same. We are here in this work not because it is easy, but because it is right and good and just.
We are in this movement knowing that Black Lives Matter. We are building real civic power to make sure that Black lives really do matter, that Black lives are supported, are invested in, able to vote, and able to make the decisions on how their local, state, and federal governments will impact their well being.
There are just 9 days left to complete the census. Our network has been working to ensure a fair and complete census count, and now is the moment to make the critical, final push, and we need it more than ever. As of September 14, 75% of predominantly Black census tracts have rates lower than in 2010. This deadline is the last chance for the next ten years to make sure our communities get a fair share of $675 billion dollars in federal funding. This is real lives on the line.
There are 43 days left until the election, and polls are open for early voting and vote by mail across the country. This election will be decided by every single ballot cast and every single voter that we help educate, engage, and protect. This year, the fight to make sure those ballots are counted will extend well past Election Day. We are ready for that fight.
In less than six weeks, the future of our country and the future of the next 30 years of the court could be decided. The court will determine whether our ballots get counted, whether BIPOC and incarcerated people can secure voting rights, whether immigrant families stay together, whether we have control over our own bodies, and whether we get clean air and water.
This election and this terrible year are asking us for everything. Well, here’s what we’ve got:
We’ve got our ancestors and their strength, and they are watching us.
We’ve got our children and our young people, and we will not hand them a burning planet.
We’ve got our girls and women and trans people, and they can decide what is right for their own bodies.
We've got our Black women, men, and nonbinary people, and we will fight to end police violence against our communities.
We’ve got our sovereign Native and Indigenous friends and neighbors, who remind us that water is life, and that our ancestors and future generations are connected.
And to my beautiful Black, Indigenous, and POC friends, we’ve got us.
We stand together, and we will fight for our future and take every step forward that we can. Thank you for being in this struggle with us. Let’s go organize voters like our liberation depends on it. As the Notorious RBG said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Rest, Justice Ginsburg. May your memory be a revolution.
With love and in solidarity,
Staff of State Voices
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