Loud & Clear
February 2021
Racial Justice Movie Club
Wednesday, February 3, 7 p.m.
“The Politics of Racial Resentment and the Cost to Health”

Physician and professor Dr. Jonathan M. Metzl, author of Dying of Whiteness, tackles the question of why people vote against their own interests. His research helps explain how people can oppose government and gun control even though their lives are impacted by poor health care, gun deaths, and inadequate infrastructures. Join us for a shared viewing and discussion of Dr. Metzl's talk.
February Program
Liberty and Justice for SOME: Our Broken Public Defender System
Thursday, February 11, 2021, 7 p.m.
Virtual Program

Speaker: Stephen F. Hanlon, Adjunct Professor, St. Louis University School of Law & Principal at Lawyer Hanlon Law Firm

For the last 25 years, Stephen Hanlon has worked primarily on public defender systems analysis and litigation around the nation, including Missouri. Mr. Hanlon has concluded that, with rare exception, America has a criminal processing system — not a criminal justice system — that principally serves to facilitate mass incarceration. He will discuss his work and the national movement to reform both our public defender system and our criminal processing system. That movement began in Missouri about 10 years ago.
Lunch & Learn with State Senator Brian Williams
Friday, February 19, noon
Virtual Program

As the oldest child of a single mother, State Sen. Brian Williams (MO-14) learned firsthand that life does not always guarantee a fair shake, but he knew everyone should have access to a good-quality life. His labor union family instilled the importance of hard work and investing in the community. This spurred his dedication to public service and community leadership.

Sen. Williams grew up in Ferguson. He encountered its police department well before it became known around the world for the killing of Michael Brown and the practices that led to a Department of Justice consent decree. In 2018, after working for U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, he worked his way into a position to do something about policing problems through election as the first Black man to the Missouri Senate in 20 years.

Now, in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and demands for justice across the globe, Williams is pushing for policing reform. He has introduced Senate Bill 60 in the current session of the Missouri legislature. SB 60, which has bipartisan support, is intended to increase public safety by building trust between the community and police. The bill includes increased accountability, a ban on no-knock warrants, a ban on chokeholds, and de-escalation training for police. Sen. Williams has also introduced SB 61, which would allow expungement of arrest records for certain offenses.
Upcoming Elections for St. Louis City Voters
Absentee voting open for March 2 primary in St. Louis City

St. Louis City voters may be able to vote absentee in the March 2 primary election for mayor, comptroller, and alderpersons.
In this open, nonpartisan primary, voters will not have to choose a Democratic or Republican ballot. All eligible candidates will appear on the same ballot without any party affiliation, and voters will be able to choose from the entire slate. Voters may vote for as many candidates as they like. The two candidates for each office with the highest number of votes in the primary will be on the ballot in the general election on April 6.

You can print out the absentee ballot request on the Election Board's website. The second excuse on the application reads "incapacity or confinement due to illness or disability." Many of us are not participating in events as we normally would, including voting, because of the danger of coronavirus. If this applies to you, you can choose this reason, which does not require a notary.

Note: Previous "COVID-19 excuse" and mail-in ballot options are no longer available. They expired in December and have not been renewed for 2021.
The Social Policy & Electoral Accountability Collaborative (SPEAC) is hosting the 2021 St. Louis Mayoral Primary Candidate Forum on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

There are two upcoming St. Louis City mayoral local elections! Voting dates are as follows:
Primary – March 2
Runoff – April 6

The mayoral forum will feature questions crafted from the Ferguson Commission’s Calls to Action aimed at giving St. Louisans’ a sense of how this year’s mayoral candidates plan to make St. Louis a more racially equitable city.
Women’s Voices is a co-sponsor of this event. Read more and register here.
Housing Justice in St. Louis County: Recent Developments, Future Possibilities
Friday, March 5, noon
Virtual Program

If you ever purchased a home, you were probably instructed to buy as much house as you could afford, in a “nice” neighborhood with good schools. But did you ever stop and think about how that house, that neighborhood, those schools got there? Probably not. And because we didn’t know to ask, most of us are completely unaware of the local, state and federal housing policies, plus lending regulations, that have resulted in patterns of segregation and inequality.

Dr. Molly Metzger, a senior lecturer at Washington University’s Brown School, is working to move housing policy toward the goals of racial equity and economic justice.

To join us for this important program, please register here.
Racial Justice Book Club
Wednesday, March 24, 6:30 p.m., Zoom
Discussion of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Historian Ibram X. Kendi chronicles the history of anti-Black racist ideas and their extraordinary effect on American history. Through the life stories of five major American intellectuals, Kendi examines how they justified discriminatory policies and racial disparities in everything from wealth to health, and he offers us the hope to make change.

Advocacy Committee Continues Focus on Voting Rights
The Advocacy Committee will continue its advocacy work to assure voting access for our upcoming municipal elections. We advocated for extending the COVID-19 voting provisions that many of you used in November. Sadly, Gov. Parson did not extend those. For more on voting options, see accompanying article in this newsletter. 

We also urge you to contact your elected officials in the U.S. Congress to support HR 1, the For the People Act, which addresses barriers to voting access and expands voting opportunities through measures such as no-excuse absentee voting; early voting; voting by mail; and nonpartisan redistricting. 

The committee is also following how coronavirus is affecting education and the economic security of women. Forbes magazine reported on Jan. 8 that women accounted for 100% of the 140,000 jobs lost in December. Employment issues will be the focus of our March program.

During this Black History Month we continue to work with the Racial Justice Committee advocating for equitable policies for all Americans.

If you want to be more involved with Women’s Voices, please join this dynamic committee. We meet the 4th Monday of the month. Join our next virtual meeting on Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. Please contact Advocacy Director Karen Francis for more information.
Pandemic Makes "Doing" Difficult
If you need another sad reminder about some of the things the COVID-19 pandemic has stolen from us, check out the February challenge for Overcoming Obstacles to Create Community on our web site.

The charge for February, Black History Month, is “Act! Do Something!” Unfortunately, we are not able to do many of the things that would enable us to show our support for the Black community. We can’t go to the Black Rep, or the In Unison choral concert. We can’t eat in Black-owned restaurants or shop in some Black-owned stores.

But there are some things we can do this month. We can still order curb-side pickup from some of the new Black-owned eateries that have recently opened. We can still order books from local independent Black-owned bookstores (EyeSeeMe and Legacy Books are two examples). We can still make contributions to Black music, theater, and dance groups. And February is the perfect month to reach out to direct service organizations that are working in the Black community. Check out our OOCC page for more ideas.
January Programs Focus on Education
January Program: Funding Preschool Education

Studies have shown that early childhood education leads to lifelong benefits in health, learning, and employment, and raises communities’ wealth, but Missouri has historically underfunded early childhood services. Speakers Linda Rallo and Richard Patton explained the challenges in making pre-K education a top public priority. Read the program summary here or watch the recoded program here.
January Lunch & Learn: Schooling Successfully During and After COVID-19

Under the leadership of Dr. Art McCoy, Jennings was the only school district in St. Louis to resume in-person schooling in July 2020, and it has had no student coronavirus cases. Dr. McCoy said that adapting to COVID-19 has shown the need for innovation in education--a paradigm shift from traditional learning approaches. Read the program summary here or watch the recoded program here.
New Video Expands Gun Safety Education
Our Lock It for Love program has created a new educational tool for organizations that partner with us: a video that explains LIFL and the importance of secure firearm storage. Organizations will use the video to educate their staff members, who will then share the information with clients as they give them free gun locks.

The video supplements our printed training materials and Zoom training meetings, which staff may not always be able to attend. Taking gun safety education a step further, the YWCA asks parents and caregivers to watch the video before receiving a gun lock. This new video helps ensure that we provide gun safety education as we work to reduce gun injuries and deaths.
Save the Date!
Meet Reginald Dwayne Betts, April 22, 7 p.m.
On Thursday, April 22, Women’s Voices is excited to present Reginald Dwayne Betts, celebrated poet, activist, and former felon. Betts will share his perspective on criminal justice reform and re-entry at the virtual meeting, which is part of our Visionary Voices series.
 
When Betts was 16, he participated in a carjacking and was sentenced to over eight years in prison, where he discovered poetry. He went on to earn an undergraduate degree and a master’s in fine arts and then graduated from Yale Law School. 

He’s authored four books--including Felon, his most recent -- that challenge our notions of justice. Betts speaks about the role of grit, perseverance, and literature in his success, as well as the intersection of literature and advocacy for change.
 
His writing and activism have earned a Soros Justice Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Ruth Lily Fellowship, an NAACP Image Award, and New America Fellowship.
 
Join us for this unique opportunity to hear from a vital “visionary voice.”

Women's Voices Members respond to injustice!
Susan Glassman, in her letter to the St. Louis American, writes of a study in contrasts of how those who have lost elections responded to the outcomes.

Joanne Kelly, in her letter to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, writes that we need to understand those with views opposed to our own.

Sherilyn Krell, in her letter to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, questions the need for including a prohibition of sexual activity while on duty in a policing reform bill. 

Ellen Wentz, in her letter to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, writes that Sen. Hawley and Rep. Hill must resign because of their participation in the rebellion at the Capitol.
Ellen's letter was also published by The St. Louis American and the Webster Kirkwood Times.

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Membership Info
Even if you can’t come to meetings or become personally involved, your membership is important…and greatly appreciated.

Benefits of Membership
When you join Women’s Voices you:
  • Make our voice stronger when we advocate with elected officials.
  • Provide support to the organization by adding your name to our advocacy efforts.
  • Provide ideas and suggestions to help determine how to define our positions and choose our causes.
  • Are eligible to vote on important decisions such as Women’s Voices taking a position on a social justice issue or supporting/opposing a ballot measure.
  • Participate in advocacy activities in any way that you want or is possible for you.
  • Can take pride in your affiliation with a strong, progressive group of women working for social justice.
  • Help cover our administrative and outreach costs through your dues.
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or
Send a check (payable to Women's Voices) to: 
 
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7401 Delmar Blvd. 
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