February 13, 2013
With Voqal Fund’s support, ColorOfChange tackled several key issues including corporate accountability, voting rights and criminal and economic justice.
In the arena of corporate accountability efforts, ColorOfChange leveraged member voices and energy to hold corporations associated with ALEC accountable for its policies. Through these efforts ColorOfChange has continued to weaken ALEC’s network and their impact; as well as the harm they cause to the Black Americans and the middle class. These efforts and work resulted in over 60 major corporations terminating their ALEC memberships.
ColorOfChange tackled head on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. This ruling on voting rights was a moment of potential crisis and opportunity for the Black community. More than symbolic, the gutting of key provisions from the Voting Rights Act had real-world consequences for young voters and voters of color across the country. In this moment, ColorOfChange acted quickly to turn member outrage over the setback at the Supreme Court into a sustained movement for voter reform and modernization.
Social justice efforts that have reaped tangible success include:
- In New York, ColorOfChange worked to organize thousands of its members and partners at Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) to demand an end to the discriminatory Stop and Frisk policing tactic which targets Black and brown New Yorkers and subjects them to suspicion-less stops. As a result, ColorOfChange partners at the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a class action lawsuit arguing that the policing tactic violates the constitutional rights of New Yorkers. Working closely with community-based partners, ColorOfChange also launched CopWatchNYC.org, an online community that empowers New Yorkers to safely and lawfully observe, record and report officers engaged in abusive or discriminatory policing tactics.
- In Maryland, hundreds of ColorOfChange members signed onto a campaign calling for the repeal of the death penalty in their state. In this work, ColorOfChange joined a growing coalition of civil rights and faith organizations putting pressure on Senate President Mike Miller, who despite his personal opposition and a history of blocking a vote, relented to public pressure and allowed a full Senate vote on repeal to go forward. From the hard work of Maryland ColorOfChange members and its partners, the Maryland General Assembly voted to repeal the death penalty and Maryland Governor O’Malley signed the repeal into law.
- In North Carolina, ColorOfChange re-ignited a previous campaign to call the North Carolina State Legislature to stop prosecuting children accused of minor offenses in the adult criminal justice system. North Carolina is one of only two states that automatically prosecutes all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults — without exception — even for low-level, minor offenses. ColorOfChange members in North Carolina and community partners raised their voices to advance anti-youth criminalization efforts during a time when a highly conservative legislature posed substantial barriers. Consistent pressure from our community made a significant difference in stalling efforts to lower the age of adult prosecution and advanced HB 217, a bill to “Raise the Age”, like never before. The fight will continue next session, but as one of only two states that tries all 16 and 17 year olds as adults–no matter how small the crime–the work of the ColorOfChange community in North Carolina this past session is particularly significant.
ColorOfChange has also been hard at work fighting to protect the security of the middle class and the social safety net for the most vulnerable in America. For example, over the past summer, thousands of ColorOfChange members and partners helped build such monumental support for New York’s Earned Sick Time Act that the City Council easily overrode Mayor Bloomberg’s callous veto. The paid sick time benefit will improve the lives of over a million low-wage, largely Black and brown workers. But the sad reality is that millions of Black folks across the country will still report to work tomorrow under inhumane conditions — without the benefit of paid sick time, and to workplaces where wage discrimination, worker abuse and harsh retaliation for speaking up are the norm. There is a great deal of work still to be done.