It’s March, so I figure it’s about time that I make room for my blog again. 🙂 So it’s Feature Friday time!
On President’s Day, I spent my day off learning and doing a little bit of lobbying at the Georgia State Capitol. Decked in a green suit with pink nails, I joined nearly 300 members of my illustrious sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for our 18th annual AKA Day at the Capitol. Sorors from across Georgia were there ready for a productive day.
My day started off helping with registration since my chapter was on the host committee. Phyllis Blake, a cornerstone of my chapter, is currently the Georgia State Connection Chair for the region, and she did a phenomenal job of organizing this event. It was my extreme pleasure to be in her entourage for the day. After a picture with Governor Nathan Deal, we sat on the floor of the House (we were told we are the only group to have ever done this!) and met a few of our state legislators, including:
Senator Horacena Tate (who is my state senator and an AKA), District 38
Senator Jason Carter (the grandson of President Jimmy Carter), District 42
Senator Lester Jackson, District 2
Representative Stacey Abrams (who is from Mississippi and as the House Minority Leader, is the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and is the first African-American to lead the House of Representatives), District 84
Representative Carolyn Hugley (who is currently the Minority Whip and an AKA), District 133
Representative Billy Mitchell, District 88
Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan (who is an AKA), District 39
Tate, Morgan, Hugley, Jackson, and Mitchell participated in a Q&A session where we asked them about various issues and bills affecting Georgia.
One bill (the plan was announced that day) we discussed in particular you should be aware of:
HB 326 – This bill is a result of Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to “save” HOPE. It affects qualifications for scholarships and it decreases the Pre-K day (from a full day to a half day, which has been proven to have a resounding impact on the learning capacity of our kids).
The loudest message from these legislators was that as constituents, we really need to let them know what we think. We need to call, write letters, email. We need to let them know that we are paying attention and we do have an opinion. As an example, Mitchell shared with us that the DeKalb County school rezoning plan was highly disliked all over the county, but the North DeKalb residents flooded their legislators will emails and calls daily, and the South DeKalb residents didn’t–the reason for this disparity is a whole other blog post–nonetheless, when the revised plan came out, North DeKalb as virtually unaffected, but South DeKalb is facing school closures and consolidations. I actually spent Saturday organizing and canvassing around this particular issue and inviting people to a meeting of the Atlanta Public Sector Alliance on March 9 at First Iconium Church on Moreland who wants to come up with community-based solutions like utilizing the buildings of closed schools like Sky Haven Elementary for positive community uses. (That was a small tangent, but just an example of why paying attention and being engaged at the local level is really really important.) So I really really encourage you to log on to the internet and pay attention to the bills introduced in the Assembly and contact your legislator to support or disapprove of these bills.
There was also a symposium, where we learned more about the impacts of redistricting; the real and impactful significance of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires a number of states to obtain preclearance for any change recommended that affects voting; and educational advocacy. It really was a worthwhile event and well worth my day off! Now, let’s spend our days on and off being vigilant on what decisions are being made for us. Contact your congressmen. Don’t let lack of contact be their excuse.