Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the June 17, 2021 edition of Three Things Thursday! The Michigan LCV team has been dreaming of lakeshores and kayaks, hikes and bike rides, but all that’s on hold because of the shenanigans in Lansing. We’ve also been keeping a very close eye on the redistricting process and mobilizing voters to make their voices heard, all while welcoming new members of the Michigan LCV family into the fold.
Before diving in, I want to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans in the United States, specifically marking the date of June 19, 1865 and the emancipation of slaves in Texas.
The past year, as racial violence in the United States has escalated, highlighting the racism and inequities that permeate our country and culture, the Michigan LCV family (staff and board) has spent a lot of time coming to terms with the work we need to do as an organization and centering our newly drafted and adopted 2021-2024 Strategic Plan in core values that include (but are not limited to) justice, people-centered power, and inclusivity. On a bi-weekly basis, we have providing interesting, compelling resources (books, articles, videos, music, podcasts, webinars, etc.) related to racial justice and equity to our staff and our board, and seeking out opportunities for our whole family to continue to educate ourselves as we do the work of becoming an anti-racist organization.
In an exciting development on Tuesday, the US Senate unanimously passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The bill passed in the House with a 415-14 vote. Earlier today, President Biden signed the legislation into law.
If possible, I urge you to celebrate Juneteenth this week and take a moment to reflect on the legacies that continue to plague our society today. Michigan LCV offices will be closed tomorrow, Friday, June 18, in observance of Juneteenth and we will be partnering with several other Michigan organizations for an in-person event on Saturday in Detroit.
For more information on Juneteenth and information on other events, please check out the P.S. below.
Now, onto this week’s Three Things!
1. The voter suppression legislation moves forward in Lansing
Our Democracy For All, Government Affairs, and Communications teams have been closely monitoring developments in Lansing as Republicans in the Senate, and now in the House, introduce (and pass) voter suppression legislation that will make it harder for Michiganders to exercise their right to vote.
Similar legislation in states across the country, like Georgia, Florida, and Texas, has been progressing at an alarming rate. On the heels of a successful and secure election in 2020 — an election that took place within a global pandemic and included historic turnout and unprecedented absentee ballots — this is exactly the opposite of what our elected leaders should be working towards.
After Senate Republicans introduced a 39-bill package in March attacking voting rights, we quickly stepped up to voice strong opposition, emphasizing that these bills deliberately create barriers between voters and the ballot and take away voting options on Election Day.
While the Senate Elections Committee has been holding hearings on individual bills within the package, only a handful have been pushed to the Senate floor. Yesterday, the Senate passed three of the most dangerous of these bills, which take aim at voter ID laws in Michigan, restricting voting options for Michiganders by taking away the option to vote by signing a sworn affidavit on Election Day.
Michigan has had a voter ID law on the books for decades that has helped ensure our elections are safe and secure, but also accessible to all eligible voters. These changes will make it harder for Michiganders to vote, particularly impacting low-income communities, communities of color, and senior citizens.
In response to the Senate vote on Wednesday, we swiftly issued a press statement, which you can read here.
As we approach the summer legislative recess in early July, the Michigan LCV team will continue to monitor the developments in the Senate, as well as in the House where similar legislation is now being introduced. If you would like to make your voice heard and/or support Michigan LCVs work in Lansing, I invite you to check out the Take Action page on our website, and/or visit the “donate” page on our website. Your dedication to and support during these challenging times is very much appreciated!
2. Michigan’s redistricting process
Our team — specifically our Democracy For All (DFA) team — has also been intensely focused on Michigan’s first-ever independent redistricting process. As a reminder, Michiganders overwhelmingly passed Voters Not Politicians’ Proposal 2 in 2018, putting citizens in charge of drawing legislative districts that will be used for the next decade, instead of politicians behind closed doors.
For almost two months, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) has been holding public hearings to gather input from communities of interest, listening to public comments on how legislative maps should be constructed.
To mark the start of the public hearing process, we hosted a virtual event in early May to help elevate and educate our circles on the redistricting process, particularly how people can get involved and make their voices heard. We also produced several videos highlighting the importance of the process, how to use the MICRC’s Mapping Tool, and what the Commission is looking for during the public comment process. We wanted to specifically highlight how “communities of interest” have an important role to play in the redistricting process in order to create districts that accurately represent the communities within them and take into account issues relating to the environment, drinking water, and climate change.
As public engagement meetings are being held in communities all across Michigan, the DFA team is working with a coalition of partner organizations and the MICRC to increase community engagement. We have been deeply involved in the public comment process and have had several of our team members volunteer at hearings across the state.
This Tuesday, we partnered with a number of other pro-voter, pro-democracy organizations for a virtual press conference on the redistricting process. Focused on increasing engagement and awareness of the redistricting process, the press conference included MICRC commissioners and partner organizations, like Voters Not Politicians, Michigan Voices, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause Michigan, and our very own Democracy For All Coordinator, Mark Payne.
Tonight from 5 PM and 9 PM at the TCF Center in Detroit, the MICRC is holding the second of two public hearings, inviting community members from the surrounding area to attend and voice their opinions on how new legislative districts should be drawn. Michigan LCV’s DFA team will be volunteering again at tonight’s public hearing. If you are in the Detroit area and interested in making your voice heard, please join us!
3. Welcoming Michigan LCV’s newest board member
In some really exciting news, we are delighted to welcome a brand new board member to the Michigan LCV family: Marseille L. Allen!
Marseille is a trusted political strategist known for her dedication to grassroots initiatives. She is the co-founder of The Warriors Trust Fund, a nonprofit established to assist combat veterans under active felony supervision in the criminal justice system. Marseille created the WaterForFlintWFF GoFundMe campaign in wake of the ongoing Flint Water Crisis, raising more than $60,000 in donations from around the globe, delivering more than 300,000 bottles of water, filters, and other essential supplies to Flint residents, and garnering national and international recognition for her efforts.
Marseille previously served as the assistant to the Majority General Counsel for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (H.E.L.P.) Committee under the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and then followed her immediate supervisor and mentor to the Center for Community Change.
Most recently, Marseille worked closely with the policy and fundraising teams of then-Senator Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign and continued in a voluntary advisory role for the Biden-Harris presidential campaign.
Marseille with Vice President Kamala Harris
In January 2020, Marseille was appointed to the Honorary Leadership Committee for Fair and Equal Michigan, a ballot initiative spearheaded to ensure equal rights for LGBTQ Michiganders. Marseille is a board trustee for The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and serves as the Michigan Legislative Liaison for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Marseille is strongly committed to her adopted Native family, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. Each year, she joins a two-week, 300-mile horseback ride to commemorate the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre and the 1862 hanging of the Dakota 38+2, the largest one-day mass execution in U.S. history. Marseille has a deep affinity for and connection to Native American heritage and culture, and understands in a deep and personal way the intersectionality of environmental justice, economic justice and social justice.
The board and staff are delighted to have Marseille join the Michigan LCV family. She has already enthusiastically rolled up her sleeves to work alongside the rest of the Michigan LCV team to ensure basic rights like clean, safe, affordable drinking water for all Michigan communities.
As I say every week, thank you for your trust and support. We simply could not do all that we do without you!
P.S. Celebrating and reflecting on Juneteenth
As we celebrate Juneteenth and reflect on the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans, here are some reading resources and information on local events.
There are also many events happening on Saturday in celebration of Juneteenth. Here’s info on the event at the Tindal Activity Center in Detroit on Saturday, which I mentioned above:
You may also want to check out other Juneteenth events happening across Michigan: