SCSJ Digest
The Monthly Newsletter of SCSJ's Top News

Welcome to SCSJ Digest, the monthly newsletter of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice! At the beginning of every month, we'll send you a roundup of the top stories from the previous month, along with relevant updates, e.g., key resources, upcoming events, and noteworthy projects. If you have any recommendations on additional topics you want to read about, please let us know. We hope you enjoy this newsletter!


Letter from the Executive Directors


Partner Profile

Top Stories in December 2020

Letter from the Executive Directors
From Allison Riggs and Ryan Roberson

Happy new year! We hope that you and your loved ones enjoyed some time off and had a safe and healthy holiday season. In 2021, we are looking forward to continuing the work that we began last year and in previous years, and expanding our programmatic work this year and beyond.

SCSJ is revitalizing the coalition that we first introduced in 2013 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder, where the Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Southern Leadership for Voter Engagement, or SOLVE, was catalyzed and ignited by this decision. SOLVE is a multi-state collaboration of grassroots community organizations and voting rights advocates dedicated to sharing strategies, resources, and support in the contemporary struggle to protect voting rights. While member organizations employ a variety of strategies in their work across a broad array of democracy issues, the coalition is united behind a pro-voter policy stance that champions policies and reforms that encourage civic participation and protect the right to vote. In the coming weeks, we will have a centralized hub and additional channels for communications for members to share resources and connect with each other.

We are also happy to announce that SCSJ is expanding our Environmental Justice (EJ) work this year! For the first few years of SCSJ's existence, EJ was a core priority. We successfully represented the NC NAACP and the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association in defending a state law that prohibited building mega-landfills. We also successfully represented the Citizens for Economic and Environmental Justice in getting an injunction from reopening the White Street Landfill in a predominantly Black neighborhood in downtown Greensboro, NC. As Voting Rights and Justice System Reform became SCSJ's primary programs, EJ maintained a connection to these core areas. For example, prisons don't prepare for natural disasters: when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, more than 8,000 inmates were forced to remain at the Orleans Parish Prison, despite the mandatory evacuation. Additionally, communities targeted by voter suppression policies and gerrymandering are also disproportionately likely to face severe environmental burdens, such as air and water pollution. We need to hold elected officials at every level accountable for environmental decisions. As we revive the EJ program, we look forward to sharing updates with you throughout 2021 and beyond.

Finally, we're excited to showcase the work of our close partners throughout North Carolina, the South, and nationwide. Starting in this issue, we'll feature a Partner Profile section every month for you to get acquainted with the work of our allies. In this issue, we spotlight Morrisville, NC-based Democracy North Carolina. Take a look below and join their movement for "Democracy in Action" this year!

In Solidarity,

Allison Riggs and Ryan Roberson

Co-Interim Executive Directors

Key resources, noteworthy projects, etc.

Giving Tree Village Fundraiser Raises More Than $1,600 for SCSJ

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who voted for SCSJ's tree in the annual Giving Tree Village fundraiser! With your support, SCSJ came in 6th place out of 47 nonprofits, with more than $1,600 raised for our organization. And a special thank you to Break The Test LLC for sponsoring SCSJ in this delightful and festive fundraising event. We look forward to participating again in future fundraisers!

Thank You_Tree_resized

Your First 48 Toolkit

People released from incarceration should have all the resources they need to successfully reenter society. This is why we created the Your First 48 Toolkit, a Durham County guide for accessing resources and service providers in the first two days after release.

The toolkit promotes social and economic independence through relationship building, strong community involvement, education, and public support. It outlines key steps for everything from getting a driver’s license and finding housing to applying for financial aid to help pay for college or vocational training.

“This toolkit underscores how imperative it is to quickly connect with the correct resources once released from prison,” said Marcus Pollard, Counsel for Justice System Reform at SCSJ (pictured below with SCSJ's Community Organizer, Sala Abdallah). “Our hope is that individuals can use this to have the correct resources, get some form of security and develop a solid plan.”

Your First 48 Toolkit Video Instagram Graphic
Partner Profile
Monthly feature of our partners' work

Democracy North Carolina

Democracy North Carolina is a nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to increase voter participation, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and achieve a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. Democracy NC grew out of Democracy South, which began as a project of the Institute for Southern Studies. For more than 20 years, Democracy NC has taken on powerful industries and political leaders, regardless of party, and promoted reforms that expand public involvement in the political process.

Democracy in Action

In Rep. John Lewis’ 2020 essay Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation, the late Georgia congressman channeled the legacy of his mentor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”

As Dr. King said in 1963, “This is the time for vigorous and positive action.”

In 2021, join the movement for “Democracy in Action” by:

  • Demanding our leaders extend and expand pro-voter policies from 2020;
  • Advocating for fair voting maps in an independent and transparent redistricting process;
  • Listening to communities of color, which disproportionately face racial bias and limits to voting access, and building connection to what’s on the ballot in this year’s local elections.

Learn more ways to be a part of “Democracy in Action."

Top Stories in December 2020

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7 Articles
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Using open source and open data to address educational disparities

Published Dec 3, 2020

At the end of May, Red Hat made a statement of solidarity with the Black community. As part of that, Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (B.U.I.L.D.), one of our associate-led Diversity and Incl…
Courthouse News Service
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Right-Wing Group Argues for Release of North Carolina Voter Data

Published Dec 10, 2020 by BRAD KUTNER

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) — The Fourth Circuit seemed unlikely Thursday to side with a conservative legal group in its effort to get sensitive voting records from North Carolina, based on claims that the sta…
Southern Coalition for Social Justice
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As Georgia Election Nears, Coalition Demands That Facebook, State Dept. Protect Poll Workers, Stop Proliferation of Violence Online

Published Dec 14, 2020 by Irving Zavaleta-Jimenez

Search Southern Coalition for Social Justice × Search SCSJ... As Georgia Election Nears, Coalition Demands That Facebook, State Dept. Protect Poll Workers, Stop Proliferation of Violence Online A new …
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Envisioning a New Voting Rights Act for the 21st Century

Published Dec 14, 2020 by Mary Braswell

Envisioning a New Voting Rights Act for the 21st Century While some state and local jurisdictions are pushing for rules that chip away at the freedom to vote, others are lighting the way for federal r…
News of Davidson
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Drumroll Please, Giving Village Results

Published Dec 15, 2020 by press release

Search for: NEWS Drumroll Please, Giving Village Results by Press Release | Dec 15, 2020 | Local, News, Nonprofits Rotary Club of Davidson's 2020 Giving Village The 2020 Giving Tree Village, organized…
Southern Coalition for Social Justice
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Southern Coalition for Social Justice Launches New Toolkit to Help Individuals Successfully Transition from Incarceration

Published Dec 16, 2020 by Staff

Southern Coalition for Social Justice Launches New Toolkit to Help Individuals Successfully Transition from Incarceration December 16, 2020336-553-1733 (office)336-823-5501 (mobile)Durham, N.C. — (SCS…
The Salisbury Post
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Years later, legal challenges still stand in way of voter ID implementation

Published Dec 20, 2020 by Natalie Anderson SALISBURY — North Carolina lawmakers have tried for nearly a decade to implement a voter identification law, with courts ultimately ruling a 2013 law was passed with…
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