Today, I uplift Fannie Lou Hamer on her 103rd birthday. This morning, my children and I honored the “Voice of the Civil Rights Movement” by singing along to it and reading her words. Freedom fighter, survivor of police terrorism and forced sterilization, healthcare advocate, the People’s representative: her life still has so much to teach me about leadership, power, taking risks, failing and rising.
In reflecting on Fannie Lou Hamer’s vision to liberate us all at the ballot box and beyond, EBCLC would like to express gratitude to all people who power our country while remaining disenfranchised from voting. As legal service providers to undocumented people, people under the age of 18, people with felony convictions, people who are mentally incapacitated, and people from US territories including American Samoa and Puerto Rico, we know that structural barriers rooted in racism and outdated ideologies prevent many of our clients from weighing in on matters that directly impact them. We hope for a day in which our clients’ citizenship, liberation, education are not on the ballot.
In addition to engaging in ongoing and critical policy change work, EBCLC will honor what will most likely be the most historic election of our time in the following ways:
- Election Day, November 3, 2020 –EBCLC will provide paid administrative leave to any staff person who volunteers as a poll worker. Given our staff members’ lived experiences and the communities they represent, we know that their presence at the polls will only benefit our community.
- In keeping with longstanding EBCLC policy, employees will receive paid time off to vote.
- November 4, 2020 – EBCLC will close the office, and all staff will take an administrative leave day. Staff are encouraged to spend the day focusing on their wellness and processing what we know of the election results.
- In recognition of how profoundly impactful this election will be on our students’ legal careers, our Clinical Director Seema Patel and I will lead EBCLC’s weekly law school seminar and facilitate a conversation on the opportunities and challenges presented by the election results.
- November 6, 2020 – EBCLC will host a facilitated virtual conversation on resilience and restoration for any staff and students interested in coming together and discussing the results of the election and the ways we will continue to advance justice for our clients, no matter the final outcome.
This election has truly high stakes at the federal, statewide, and local levels. We remain deeply grateful to ancestors who fought and won the right to vote for so many. It is in their honor that we continue to fight to ensure that civic engagement meaningfully uplifts all communities.
East Bay Community Law Center