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Action Alert - February 5, 2024

Black History Month at the Beach

To celebrate the month, we offer a few highlights of Black history and notable trailblazers at the Beach.

Predating its American Beach sister to the north by three decades, Manhattan Beach may be the oldest beach resort for African Americans in the state. Believed to be located somewhere near the southern dunes of Hanna Park, the beach provided a recreation site for workers building Henry Flagler's Continental Hotel who were barred from white beaches during segregation. Find out more in this 2018 article by Beaches resident Matt Soergel, and view the Recovering Manhattan Beach photo exhibit at Adele Grage this month.

The Hill in Jacksonville Beach was once home to a thriving Black business and entertainment district. The Rhoda L. Martin Cultural Center, named after the founder of the first school for Black children at the Beach, is working to preserve the cultural legacy of the area. The Donner Community, first developed in a rural area off Mayport Road, remains home to many Black churches, as well as the Gail Baker Community Center. Read David Thompson's moving memories of the center's namesake and her work here. A well-known Donner landmark is the Voo Swar Restaurant and Lounge where Lewis Davis still operates the bar started by his father in the 1960s as a refuge for Black sailors and neighborhood residents.

The City of Atlantic Beach Rec Department has several Black History Month events planned including a Trivia Night (February 17) at Veterans Memorial Park and a free Movie Night (February 24 at Jordan Park). Take part and tell city leaders you appreciate these community-building activities!

Groundhog Day in Congress

Federal lawmakers are set to act on two important bills this week dealing with immigration and taxes. Both are in danger of becoming political casualties as the GOP conspires to avoid any action favorable to the President's re-election. The Senate is expected to act today on a bipartisan immigration bill, which includes supplemental funding for Ukraine. The measure has already been pronounced DOA in the GOP-led house sight unseen. The House, meanwhile, last week passed a sweeping bipartisan tax bill 357-70, with yea votes from both U.S. Reps. John Rutherford and Aaron Bean. However, the bill, which includes an expanded childcare tax credit as well as tax cuts for businesses, faces roadblocks in the Senate.

Once again, it is important to speak out and urge our elected officials to support both of these bills. Thank Rep. Rutherford for his support of the tax bill, particularly the expanded childcare tax credit which will help reduce childhood poverty. But let him know you expect him to support the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill when it is passed, along with funding for Ukraine. Email him here or call his Jacksonville office at (904) 831-5205. Contact Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio and urge them to support the bipartisan immigration bill, along with supplemental funding for Ukraine, when it comes up for a vote. And, you expect their support for the bipartisan tax bill passed last week by the House. Rubio, who has supported the childcare tax credit previously, has threatened to vote against the bill without increased work requirements. Email Scott and Rubio, or call their local offices (Scott 904.479.7227; Rubio 904.354.4300).


Gun Bills Advance in Legislature, Co-Sponsors Needed for State Voting Rights Act

Two bills (HB 1223 and HB 17) rolling back key provisions of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act passed out of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee last week and are headed to the Judiciary Committee for a vote this week. The bills would lower the age for purchasing a gun, including assault weapons, from 21 to 18 years old, and eliminate the three-day mandatory waiting period for buying firearms. Reducing gun violence is a 2024 BAM legislative priority. While state Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has called the bill reducing the age of gun buyers a "non-starter," meaning it is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate, House members need to know efforts to eliminate gun violence prevention measures passed with bipartisan support in 2018 are not supported by their constituents. Rep. Kiyan Michael, who represents the Beaches, had an excused absence and did not vote on the bills. Email her and members of the House Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, The Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Voting Rights Act  (HB 1035/SB 1522) is buried in multiple legislative committees and not expected to be considered this session. The ACLU and other groups advocating for the bill, which would make Florida the 7th state in the country and only the second state in the south to pass a law protecting voting rights, are focusing on gathering co-sponsors in preparation for another push next year. In our area, Rep. Angie Nixon has already lent her support to the proposed bill. Thank her for co-sponsoring the bill and urge other members of the Duval delegation who support voting rights --- Rep. Kimberly Daniels and Sen. Tracie Davis --- to do the same.


Card Campaign Offers Quick Facts

If you've ever stumbled around for facts and information on the two likely presidential candidates, check out the Card Campaign (FB page). The goal of the campaign is to educate voters about the differences between the candidates and their accomplishments. Find out more about the campaign here. You can download printable, shareable cards with easy-to-read information, along with tips on using them here. The group plans to update the cards and provide additional resources as they become available.


Don't Forget: Share Your GOTV Priorities for the

Spring Summit

BAM and Indivisible Mandarin are planning a summit of like-minded, nonpartisan groups in early May 2024! The purpose of this summit is to strengthen collaboration around GOTV activities, particularly for under-represented and disenfranchised groups; to engage and motivate our members, and to adopt and amplify common messaging. Our goal is to create an action agenda and identify groups committed to leading and supporting implementation strategies.

We need your input!  Take this quick, online survey to help us identify three or four topics to brainstorm strategies in small groups and develop common Get Out the Vote (GOTV) activities during the summit. We will also be sending the survey to partner organizations. The deadline for responding is February 23. We value and appreciate your ideas!


Mark Your Calendar!

If you’ve ever fantasized about replacing Rick Scott with someone who actually shares your values, you should join us on Thursday, March 14 at 7 pm via Zoom. BAM and Indivisible Mandarin are hosting a conversation with Florida U.S. Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. DMP --- as she is known --- will share her priorities and game plan for defeating Rick Scott, the GOP incumbent and former governor. Scott, labeled "one of the least popular Florida politicians" among voters in the state, is seeking his second term in the Senate. Click on the graphic below to RSVP and receive the ZOOM link.

A Few Interesting Reads for the Week

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Only 274 days until the 2024 election!

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