2021: Success & Challenges
The opening months of 2021 produced significant victories and underscored the importance of engagement, advocacy and action. The defeat of the seriously flawed Lot J proposal proved that a loud and public outcry can stop the seemingly unstoppable. Nationally, we survived the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol with our election intact. And the historic Biden/Harris inauguration ushered in a dazzling first 100 days! The U.S. is once more leading on climate change. More than 110 million Americans are fully immunized against COVID. The American Rescue Plan, passed thanks to hard fought elections that produced a Democratic majority in Congress, is providing economic relief to families, businesses and communities hard hit by the pandemic. And, federal legislation has been introduced to strengthen the nation's physical and human infrastructure.
But these victories face continued challenges at the national, state and local levels. The GOP's continued lies about the legitimacy of the Biden Administration and voter suppression efforts across the country threaten the fundamental health of our democratic system. And the 2021 Florida Legislative session's determination to walk back individual and collective rights offers a glaring reminder of all the work yet to do to end the Republican lock on the Florida statehouse and legislature.
Just as Biden was quick to begin undoing the damage of Trump's regime, so we can turn around policy and priorities in Florida and nationally by electing leadership that reflects our values, and speaking out about the issues we care about. Learn more and get involved!
Send a Tweet about an #issue to your @elected official
Contact your representative by email or phone
Pen a letter-to-the-editor sharing your views
This year's Florida Legislature approved significant restrictions on Vote-by-Mail and other voter suppression measures. And we are not alone. Since the November election, more than 100 different voter suppression bills have been introduced across the country to make voter registration harder and to roll back reforms like easier access to Vote-by-Mail.
Beyond that, our best defense lies in several pieces of national legislation now before Congress:
The For the People Act is comprehensive pro-democracy legislation (HR 1 in the House; S1 in the Senate).
One crucial provision of For the People is the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act with strong safeguards against racial discrimination and voter suppression.
Act Now: Write or call Rubio, Scott & Rutherford and urge them to support these essential voter protections.
Then share what you've learned with a Letter to the Editor.
School Name Changes
Last summer, the Duval County School Board voted unanimously to consider name changes to nine public schools that honor Confederate leaders and people involved in the marginalization of Native Americans. There is a lengthy process for garnering input from the school communities, and general public. This is an opportunity to remedy a visible example of institutional racism in our community. Find out more about the timeline for each school and ways to get involved here. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund has established a fund to help defray the cost of the name changes. You can contribute here.
The killing of George Floyd and others by police sparked action at all levels of government in support of reform in procedures, training, and law enforcement funding. A reform bill - hailed as the first step in addressing issues raised by the killings - was passed unanimously by the Florida Legislature in 2021. Thank Beaches Rep. Cord Byrd for his co-sponsorship of the bill, and other members of the Duval delegation for their support. Urge continued work to improve policing in Florida.
Locally, support the efforts of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee in advocating for the establishment of the Jacksonville Police Accountability Council (JPAC). Find out more about the Jacksonville People's Budget and recommendations for more equitable police funding. Urge the City Council and Mayor to support these important strategies for criminal justice reform.
Building a Progressive Electorate
Get involved with BAM! Advocate for progressive ideas and help us create a strong ground game for elections in 2022.
Join our Social Media team: If you're a regular on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, join the BAM social media team and post regularly about the issues you care about. Email John Weldon to learn more.
Join our Letters-to-the Editor team: Be an active contributor to the opinion page of the Beaches Leader and Jacksonville Times-Union. Email Nancy Staats to find out how.
Join our Voter Outreach team: Help plan and run events like voter registration, post-carding, canvassing, and vote-by-mail sign-ups. Email BAM to get involved.
Help us build BAM. Attend our meetings and events, invite your friends & forward our emails. BAM holds monthly gatherings with guest speakers on national, state and local topics of importance to progressive voters. Check out our upcoming events.
Reach out. Make Your Voice Heard!
The single best way to influence elected officials is to reach out and tell them what you think. From School Board & City Council all the way up to the US House & Senate, politicians keep track of what their constituents say. Speak up any time an issue matters to you. The links below will take you to lists that make this easy and quick.