What is the Southern Poverty Law Center issue focus?
The SPLC is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. Over the next several years, the SPLC will focus its work on eradicating poverty, decriminalizing and decarcerating Black and brown people, protecting voting rights and civic engagement, and dismantling white nationalism and protecting democracy.
What is something Southern Poverty Law Center is currently prioritizing? Can you tell our readers a little about the goals of the campaign/project?
The Southern Poverty Law Center — in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta —launched its Vote Your Voice initiative in 2020 to help support voter registration and mobilization efforts in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Through the 2022 cycle, the SPLC is investing up to $30 million from its endowment in nonpartisan, nonprofit voter outreach organizations in these states to increase voter registration and participation among people of color.
The Vote Your Voice campaign seeks to: empower communities of color by aiding them in their fight against voter suppression; support Black- and brown-led voter outreach organizations often ignored by traditional funders; support and prototype effective voter engagement strategies; and re-enfranchise returning citizens despite intentional bureaucratic challenges
Do you have an “Advocacy Tip” to share or “Lesson Learned” while organizing this or other campaigns? Do you have any general words of wisdom that you’d like to share with other staff engaged in advocacy?
Give yourself space the space to experiment and be flexible, and recognize that there are still valuable learnings in failure. COVID-19 upended a lot of our plans and prompted us to be more experimental with voter outreach than we normally would have been.
Many of our member organizations work with both our Bolder Advocacy initiative on c3/c4 advocacy rules and guidance, and our Justice programs on the importance of the courts and judicial nominations. How has either or both most helped you? How have you worked with either or both?
Alliance for Justice participated in a webinar with our Vote Your Voice grantees, providing them guidance on conducting 501(c)(3)-permissible voter registration and GOTV activities.
Who inspires you?
Desmond Meade (Florida Rights Restoration Coalition). We continue to be in awe of the personal obstacles he’s overcome and the grassroots movement he helped build to pass Amendment 4 in Florida — the largest expansion of voting rights in a generation. Mr. Meade and FRRC have shown that we can still shoot for the moon, that we don’t have to lower our dreams and expectations.