Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

April 22, 2020
In This Issue:
Elayne Berger, Book Sale Chair
Nancy Dimattio, Recorder
Trish Farrington, Publicity
Bonnie Isman, Voter Service
Ann Kieser, At-Large
Phyllis Lehrer, Membership
Susan Millinger, E-bulletin
Deanna Pearlstein, Event Organization
Janice Ratner, Treasurer
Adrienne Terrizzi, Spokesperson

April 27, 2 p.m., New England States Development ConferenceSpeaker, Virginia Case, LWVUS CEO. First presentation of cancelled  Annual New England Regional Conference available on Zoom. Click here to register
May 4, 1-3 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting. Any member is welcome to join us for the meeting on Zoom. Contact Kathy Campbell for the link.  
June 13, tentative date of LWVMA Council. More information available after April 24. 
June 25-27, 2020, LWV 54th National Convention will be virtual. Business sessions to be June 25-27. More information will be available later. Registration for delegates will be in early May. Click here for the full statement.  
Note about LWVAmherst's Annual Meeting; we expect the May 4th Steering Committee meeting to determine date and medium. A special mini-bulletin will send the decision. 
To subscribe to the e-bulletin, visit and click on the blue tab "Sign up for Email Updates".
Don't forget to visit the Amherst League of Women Voters Facebook page and "like" us. Marla Jamate, our Facebook editor, does a great job and deserves a wider LWVA audience.

Our website is

LOOKING FOR people willing to take pictures occasionally at a LWVA event. Contact the editor.
STEERING COMMITTEE: A message from this month's chair, Trish Farrington   
As we were leaving winter behind in March, the League had some interesting events planned--Celebration of International Women's Day and a movie and discussion of Black Women's Suffrage.  As you know both had to be cancelled.  Then we were about to spring into our usual busy season of Annual Meeting and Book Sale.  I look forward to both of these occasions because they bring us together as friends and colleagues.  At Annual Meeting we meet, greet, discuss League activities--past, present, future--, make decisions, and enjoy delicious snacks.  The Book Sale, our most prominent community event, is also a time for us to connect with each other as we work hard, have fun, and enjoy a satisfying conclusion.   
     As of now both events are cancelled in their usual form.  Can we figure out a 'virtual" annual meeting?  Can we plan a social activity later in the summer/fall for us to enjoy each other's company --without books?  If you have suggestions or ideas for how to follow through with any of  these things, feel free to email me.   
     Meanwhile, the League does carry on:  Adrienne and her committee working on the census, Barbara Pearson and the Health Care Committee lobbying our governor and legislature about Single Payer Health Care.  As for our other endeavors (Affordable Housing, Civic Action Grants, for example) they will continue in good time.   
What can we can do from the shelter of out homes? Phone, write, watch, listen!  See the suggestions below.
Take care, Trish

THE BOOK SALE CHAIR explains the Book Sale Cancellation

To my fellow League members:  

As you might have seen in the April update, a decision was made to cancel our beloved Book Sale. Just as the committee was getting ready to meet, start organizing, and prepare to get off the ground in late June, circumstances changed. 
This decision was made after much discussion and consideration of several factors. In an on-line meeting with former book sale chairpersons, Cynthia and Jerry Brubaker, and Kathy Campbell, I asked their thoughts about the possibility of carrying on our League's tradition. We agreed that there are still too many unknowns that would make every aspect of the sale problematic.
Our foremost concern is the virus. Will the threat have subsided by then? We also pondered if any League members would feel comfortable working, as we have become accustomed to, in the steamy, somewhat stuffy confines of the gym.
Next, there is the question of how willing our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Valley will be to wander the gym to peruse the amazing abundance of reading material that we provide them!
A final concern has to do with the availability of the gym, because of course our school system has been hard-pressed to accommodate all the changes necessary to deal with the spread of the virus. Will it be needed this year, unlike earlier years, when summer finally sets in?
With all these considerations, I know that we cannot hold the sale this year.
Thank you for your understanding this decision. I always try to think of the future, and I look forward to a year from now, when I will meet with the organizing committee and start finalizing the details for the upcoming 2021 book sale.
--Elayne  Berger
As membership director, all of you are important to me not only for League activities but general welfare. Social isolation is an issue with restrictions on gatherings. Therefore, if anyone needs a phone buddy or an email buddy let me know.

In addition, if any members want to volunteer to be a buddy let me know. Though we are apart we can still be together.

The League sends cards to members for milestone birthdays and anniversaries as well as get well wishes. If you know of anyone who needs a card let me know.

Email Phyllis Lehrer  or call 253-5179

FROM THE WEBMASTER: Would anyone like to help with moving the web site to WordPress? If so, contact the Webmaster.


So, what has your Task Force been doing since our stay-at-home restrictions? Making phone calls to residents in hard-to-count communities! We joined the Mass Voters Table (MVT) and the MA Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) to reach those most at risk of being under-counted and also who are most vulnerable during this public health crisis: low-wage workers, people of color, immigrant workers, people experiencing homelessness, and non-English speakers.

How can you help? Register here!

What do you need? A phone, a computer (whether tablet, laptop, or desktop), and 2 hours of your time. Sessions are on Tuesdays at 11:00am-1:00pm, Wednesday (new!) and Thursdays, 5:00 PM-7:00 PM. Once you sign up via Eventbrite, you will receive an email with log in information: a password for both VAN and Zoom and a call-in number. Calls have focused on reaching Dorchester and Roxbury, but MVT/MIRA has heard us, and Amherst area calls will soon be included!
The 2 hour sessions include a 20-30 minute training, a quick role play of how a typical call would go and a script to follow, available here:

Meanwhile, as we continue outreach to enlist other organizations and community groups, we welcome Amherst's District One Neighbors Association (DONA) in support of our efforts. The U.S. Census reports the following total response rates through April 17: National - 50.2%, Massachusetts - 51.7%, Hadley - 61.7%, Amherst - 54.5%. We've a long way to go, but together we can!

And, to all the League members who have stepped up and helped, a big shout-out THANK YOU! The list is too long to mention here, but you know who you are.

Legislation on Election Changes
for September - November

A bill to change how Massachusetts elections are run during the COVID-19 pandemic is being drafted by the Election Modernization Coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters of Mass.  This new bill would continue some of the procedures that were included in legislation for May-June local elections.

Expanded absentee voting and vote by mail options will need early legislative approval in order for cities and towns to arrange for new mailing services, scanning equipment and procedures to be in place. Four months is not a lot of time to build infrastructure to cope with the 10-fold expansion of the state's current 5% of mail-in votes to even 50% of all votes.

This legislation will also protect the health of in-person voters and of poll workers with requirements for personal protective equipment and sanitation procedures. Election Day registration of new voters will also be proposed.

See the April 17, 2020 letter from the Election Modernization Coalition for more details.

Nancy Brumback, chair of  LWVMA's Legislative Action Committee asks us to contact our legislators emphasizing the importance of taking action to address election issues quickly, and to include a link to that Coalition letter.  Once the Coalition bill is filed, we will be asked to contact our legislators in support of that bill.  (Note that email is the best way to contact legislators these days; no one is in the office to answer phones.)
--Bonnie Isman
The Sustainability and Climate Action Committee suggests:
Happy Earth Day!  While global CO2 emissions have dropped as the global economy has severely curtailed, we know the effect is temporary and has come at great financial cost.  As we welcome spring in semi-isolation, it's a time to reflect on what each of us can do
> >   - Plant a tree (or 2)
> >   - Resolve to combine errands, carpool, and reduce driving after society reopens
> >   - Resolve to become better informed on the challenges of larger, national efforts, such as the Deep Wind project, carbon sequestration, balancing renewable energy vs. environmental impacts
> >   - Publicize the detrimental impacts of large-scale biomass burning for electricity generation
> >   - Support public transportation
> >   - Work within our local communities to promote solutions: plant more public trees, improve recycling & reduce waste, install solar panels on rooftops & over parking lots ...
> >   - Perhaps our League could consider continuing to hold some committee meetings via Zoom, to avoid having each of us drive our car to a meeting?
--Martha Hanner
April 22nd is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day ! This year, Earth Day goes digital.

The LWVMA's Environmental Action and Advocacy Committee has shared some ideas for things you can do online. Y ou can take action and sign up for Earth Day 2020 live streaming events. "It's 24 hours of action, engagement, and activities you can do at home." Sign up and see what you can do. ( is the official web site; the site for the original Earth Day

Or you can participate in the digital activity of  the Youth Global Climate Strike (click here ) which recommends joining Earth Day Live: "Youth activists and adult allies are leading Earth Day Live, a 72-hour livestream that aims to engage people across the country and the world in collective action to protect our communities."  
The Committee also recommends reading "Why You Should Care About Earth Day During the Global Coronavirus" (here)  and "Coronavirus Doubters Follow Climate Denial Playbook" (here).

Health Care Update: The COVID-19 virus gives Improved Medicare for All (or Single Payer Health Care) a tailwind.
Western Mass Medicare for All (M4A), the regional group supporting M4A, has called the COVID-19 virus and the U.S.' chaotic response to it a "Wake-up Call" that reveals the weaknesses in our corporate healthcare system.  
 It invited individuals and organizations to endorse a letter to Governor Baker and the MA legislature, urging them "to pursue [Improved Medicare for All, Single Payer] principles and to implement the M4A bill in the MA legislature as soon as possible after the crisis abates."  The Health Care committee is pleased to announce that LWV of Amherst has signed on.  The text of the letter can be found on the WMM4A website or on Action Network as a petition.
It's always a good idea to contact (email, nowadays) our legislators to ask them to support S693/H1194.  
A related letter urging immediate action on M4A by Health Care Committee chair Barbara Pearson was published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Monday April 20. If you missed it, you can read it on the WMM4A Facebook page here. Scroll down the Posts to find Pearson's letter.
--Barbara Pearson 

WATCH AND LISTEN: To Virginia Case, CEO of LWVUS and others

New England Regional Conference Cancelled but...
This year's New England Leadership Development Conference, planned for April 4-5 in Wells, Maine, for New England Leagues has been cancelled, BUT four sessions will be available on Zoom on succeeding Monday afternoons at 2 p.m.  You need to register separately for each session. 
Monday, May 4, 2 p.m., Join a workshop with Yanna Krupnikov, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Stony Brook University, who will share her research on the potential for power in information, integrating psychology and political science in order to identify points at which new information can have the most profound effect on the way people form political opinions, make political choices and, ultimately, take political actions. Prof. Krupnikov joins us with the generous support of the Scholars Strategy Network of Maine. Register here
  Monday, May 11, 2 p.m., join an Engagement Workshop Panel Presentation. The panel will discuss how Leagues can maximize the impact of our work to engage disengaged and disenfranchised voters. Panelists will share insights about how we can encourage change in voting behaviors; the benefits of cooperation among groups working to engage voters, especially those who feel disengaged or left out; and the crucial role legislation plays in getting everyone to the polls.  Panelists: Yanna Krupnikov, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Stony 
Brook University; Mufalo Chitam, Executive Director, Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition; and NH senator  Melanie Levesque.   Register here
Monday, May 18, 2 p.m., The organizers will host a timely conversation about how Leagues are handling the pandemic and the challenges to our elections. Register here

Watch and Listen to Celebrations of the Centennials
of LWVUS, LWVMA, and the 19th Amendment
The second in LWVMA's 100th Anniversary Webinar Series is a talk by Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, author of The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters. She was president of the national LWV from 1998 to 2002, the only African-American woman to head the League. She is an authority on the voting rights of African-Americans and currently a professor at the University of North Carolina.

Jefferson-Jenkins' talk on Wednesday, May 6, at 7 p.m requires registration.  Click here to register.

The first virtual event, the one-woman performance, I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone, was much enjoyed by attendees.

The webinars are free and open to the public, and most will be recorded and available from LWVMA's website.
Centennial Commemoration Committee
While we wait for the return of times when we can again schedule centennial-celebrating events, members of the Committee will provide brief articles about aspects of the history of the League, good and bad.  Here's some background for Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins' webinar (see above.) 
The Persistent Participation of Black Women in the Fight for Women's Suffrage
In celebrations of the 19th Amendment during this Centennial year, there is an obligatory footnote, pointing out that 1920 does not mark the victory to gain the vote for Black women as it does for Whites. In fact, progress in voting rights for Blacks of all genders was slow from 1920 to 1965, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. That bill renewed the promise of Emancipation that had been closed by Jim Crow laws and other injustices embedded in segregation.

From Standing on My Sisters' Shoulders 
Most people interpret this fact to mean that Black Women did not participate in the suffragist struggle from 1850 to 1920. It is true that the League of Women Voters has to acknowledge the overt racism of many of our suffragist heroes.  As they got closer to victory, it became an explicit "Southern strategy" to avoid antagonizing potential supporters in the South by distancing themselves from Black activists. (West Brookfield's Lucy Stone was a noteworthy exception.) Nonetheless, there were fiery and persistent Black heroes, whom we will be fortunate to learn about during this year.
Western Mass has an advantage with respect to knowledge of a piece of the legacy of Black Women's suffrage.  Sojourner Truth and the famous "Ain't I a Woman" speech are familiar to most of us in the vicinity of her home in Florence MA.  Another African-American voice associated with Western Mass that strongly supported votes for women was W.E.B. Du Bois. He was born in the Berkshires and is now memorialized in the UMass Library's Du Bois Center.  As editor of Crisis, the magazine of the NAACP from 1910 into the 1930s, Du Bois, himself, wrote forcefully in favor of women's suffrage, and gave voice to women leaders, most notably in the August 1915 issue of Crisis wholly devoted to a Symposium on Votes for Women with over 25 leading speakers on the subject.  
--Barbara Pearson  
Congratulations to member Sudha Setty
who was named to the Lawyers of Color Power list 2020 by the Lawyers of Color, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting diversity in the legal profession and advancing democracy and equality in marginalized communities.

Setty is currently the Dean of the School of Law at Western New England University.  Former Recorder for the LWVA Board, Setty has given several excellent talks sponsored by LWVA.
Student Video Contest: "Should 16-Year-Olds Have the Right to Vote?"
THE LAST DAY TO ENTER SUBMISSIONS  has been EXTENDED to April 30 . This year's student video contest asks high school students throughout the Commonwealth to make a 30-second video answering the question "Should 16-Year-Olds Have the Right to Vote?"
Information about the theme and the contest rules has been posted on LWVMA's
website.  Winners will be announced on June 15.  
LWVMA needs judges for this contest. All the work is done in May from your own computer on your schedule. You will receive a link to all the videos and information on how to rank them. If you would like to be a judge, email Taylor Grenga  .

COVID-19 Toolkit Available from LWVMA    
A COVID-19 toolkit for local Leagues to help deal with this crisis is available on the LWVMA website here. It is updated frequently and includes information from LWVUS as well as LWVMA notices on elections, remote meetings, and voter engagement. 
MassTrac, the legislation tracking service we subscribe to, is offering a public blog, updated daily, on the status of COVID-19-related legislation.

Selections from the most recent message about LWVUS' Convention
The entire text can be found here 
"We are still working through all details on this virtual Convention but can share the following with you: 
  • Business sessions will be held on June 25-27 and we are planning the agenda with consideration towards all time zones.
  • We will host a full plenary and are working closely with our parliamentarian to observe all governance guidelines for a virtual space. All requirements around delegates, quorum, and how we conduct our business will remain the same. Detailed instructions will be sent to all delegates ahead of the first plenary session. 
  • All current registrants will receive a full refund. An email from our registration software will be sent with instructions. We are offering registrants the option to convert their registration fee to a donation to LWVEF.  
  • We are working with the hotels on all existing hotel reservations. All reservations will be cancelled at no penalty. We will alert you of any action required on your part as we receive that information from the hotels.  
... Registration for the virtual Convention will open in early May and we will provide further announcements and instructions as we have them. 
If you have any questions please contact Christina Davis, Special Projects Manager."

E-bulletin Staff and Contributors in April   
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-bulletin, Susan Millinger, can be contacted here. The Associate Editor is Trish Farrington; Janice Ratner and Phyllis Lehrer proofread the issue; Kay Fite checks the links. Contributors to the April 2020 e-bulletin include LWVA members Elayne Berger, Kathy Campbell,Trish Farrington, Martha Hanner, Bonnie Isman, Phyllis Lehrer, Barbara Pearson, and Adrienne Terrizzi. Material on LWVMA comes from either the League Leader Update or Mass League Voter or from letters from LWVMA.

This monthly message is for anyone interested in the League, not just members. If you know someone who might be interested, forward this message and invite them to subscribe themselves, using the link below.