As we celebrate Black History Month, 2021, we pay tribute to Kamala Harris, the first Black/Southeast Asian Vice President, Rev. Rafael Warnock, the first Black Senator from Georgia, and the amazing Stacey Abrams, author of a new book “Our Time is Now,” a grass roots activist who succeeded in energizing and getting out the Black vote in Georgia in greater numbers than ever before. Kudos to young Amanda Gorman, 2021 Poet Laureate, who presented her moving spoken words at President Biden’s Inauguration. We also recognize our own Deborah Turner, President of LWVUS. These leaders are an inspiration to us all. In addition, a shout out to all the supporters and participants of the Black Lives Matter movement: people of all races, who participated in peaceful demonstrations throughout the country.
In Memoriam from the past year, we remember the great Hank Aaron, “the Hammer,” who hit more home runs than Babe Ruth, and sadly was rewarded with death threats as a result. We mourn the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman, gifted actor and a beacon of light to Black audiences both young and old, who suffered in silence as he continued to perform even with the pain of cancer. And, of course, the elegant Cicely Tyson, whose acting career of 7 decades delighted audiences over and over. May they rest in peace.
Last Saturday, the members of our OPRF League completed our part of the IWVIL Study of Criminal Justice Reform at a final meeting where our committee members and others reached consensus on 50 questions, several of which signaled a movement to recognize and eliminate injustice in the Black community. The topics included investing in impoverished communities to reduce crime, recognizing and working to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system, building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, the elimination of cash bond, funding of Restorative Justice Courts, and more. I want to recognize the hardworking members of our committee: Joan Petertil, Marsha Borders, Michelle Fitz-Henry, Suzanne Isaacson, Judy Crown and Mary Cay Murray, for the long hours spent reading, researching and presenting the 14 sections of the Study. I would also like to thank our members who participated in the consensus meeting.
Simultaneously, the Black Caucus in Springfield passed a massive Criminal Justice Reform Bill which will be sent to the Governor’s Office for his signature in the near future. The recommendations in our study are in alignment with this Bill. If the LWV state delegates vote to approve the findings of our study at the convention in June, we will be able to endorse future legislation that supports the elimination of inequality in our criminal justice system.
Stay safe and warm,