Support is growing for Jan. 21 rally as SC groups sign on

jan21flyerwnumbersThe SC Progressive Network‘s Jan. 21 rally and strategy summit is gaining traction! In spite of the difficulty of organizing during the holidays, we have a great list of supporting organizations from across the state. Other groups are expected to sign on, pending confirmation from their boards.

To add your group, call 803-808-3384 or email


A Phillip Randolph Institute
Carolina Peace
Columbia Central Labor Council
Common Cause-SC
League of Women Voters of SC
National Association of Social Workers-SC Chapter
New Legacy Project
Piedmont Humanists
Riverside Development Corporation – Saluda
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
SC American Association of University Women
SC Education Association
SC Equality
SC Legislative Progressive Caucus
SC NAACP Branches
SC Sierra Club
SC Voter Education Project
Simple Justice/Black Lives Matter
Somos SC
Standing Up for Racial Justice
Young Immigrants in Action

Network Organizing Rally and Strategy Summit Jan. 21

The SC Progressive Network is organizing a counter-inaugural event in Columbia on Saturday, Jan. 21, to respond to the disaster unfolding in our nation’s capital. While we normally focus exclusively on South Carolina, these are not normal times. The election and its alarming aftermath have only further alienated voters already disaffected by a system controlled by money, gerrymandering, and crippling partisanship.

If ever there was a time for us to unite and fight for this country, it is now. Marching in Washington is important, but the real work gets done here at home. So we will rally on Jan. 21 at the SC State House to amplify our voices, strengthen our coalitions, and map a way forward together.

Since the election, the Network has seen a spike in membership and involvement, online and in the real world. We believe that a mass action in Columbia will give SC activist groups a platform to talk about their work, solicit community support, and mobilize the newly engaged. Rather than rehashing what we all know is wrong, speakers will talk about what their organizations are doing, how people can get involved, and how we can collaborate to maximize collective power. We will keep speeches short, and include music, poetry, and other acts to keep the program engaging.

After the rally, we will offer hands-on and practical workshops at a nearby facility that are free and open to the public.

We are setting up working groups to handle various responsibilities, and will meet each Wednesday at noon at our offices in the Modjeska House to touch base and keep everyone on task. Bring your own lunch, or get carry-out from deli across the street.

We need volunteers to handle logistics, hospitality, and outreach. We also need help organizing what we’re calling a democracy fair, a mini-carnival on the grounds.

Want to help? Sign up for the working group(s) that interest you by sending email to You will be added to the e-list(s).


  • Logistics and hospitality: Rally set up and break down; parking and security details; arranging carpools and ride-shares; sound and stage; water/food, etc.
  • Fair: Plan, set up, and manage three or four booths with games, information and opportunities for prizes.
  • Outreach: Messaging and press work; creating and circulating posters, flyers, email blasts; social media campaign.
  • Workshops: Prepare and present sessions on the Network projects, the state of civics and social justice in SC, and a people’s history – a sampling from the Modjeska School’s teachings.

If you can’t participate in the working groups but have ideas, resources, or suggestions, please share by email or a phone call.

Please help defray costs for the event. Donate by clicking here or calling the Network’s office at 803-808-3384. Thanks, all.

Message to enraged and newly engaged Network members

Like the rest of the world, the SC Progressive Network is coming to grips with the new social and political reality since the election. We’ve mourned. We’ve raged. Now we’re moving to the next stage: organizing like our lives depended on it. We are glad that you’ve joined us.

Progressives must work collaboratively and strategically to map a way forward – together. These perilous times offer an opportunity to grow the revolution of social values the Network has been working toward for 20 years. It is going to take discipline, hard work, and a lot of help. We need your time, your talent, your energy, your ideas, and your financial support. (Become a member by clicking here. Already a member but want to make a donation? Click here.)

We have an influx of new members to the Network, and a renewed interest from organizations who are in the process of re-joining or becoming members for the first time. Interest on social media also has spiked. (If you haven’t already, join us on Twitter and Facebook. You can also view video clips of Network events and rallies on our YouTube channel.)

Columbia’s November meeting attracted some 140 people, so many that we had to change our meeting space. We may have to do the same in December; check the calendar when we send it next week for the meeting location.

To accommodate our growth spurt, and to find ways to engage our new members, we are expanding our meeting schedule so that those who can’t make a regular monthly meeting can pick a different day and time and get together for a breakfast or lunch meeting, or for an after-work or Sunday afternoon social. We will solicit comments from our members and implement our broader calendar in January.

We are in the beginning stages of organizing an event for SC folks who are not going to Washington to protest the inauguration. We’ll be talking about it at our next chapter meetings. Ideas welcome. We may model it after the InHogural ball we held to celebrate Gov. Nikki Haley’s taking the helm in 2011.

inhogural_low_resTo newcomers, we welcome you with gratitude and great hope for building a broader and more united force to resist the rising tide of oppression and fascism. Please feel free to call or email our office with your questions or suggestions, or to get assigned a task. Meanwhile, please visit our web site to see the projects we’re working on and ways you can get involved.

We wish you all peace during the the coming holidays. If you’re in Columbia, please join us for our annual celebration of Modjeska Monteith Simkins’ birthday on Dec. 5 at her home, 2025 Marion St. The casual drop-in between 5:30-7pm is open to all.


4The November Network meeting in Columbia attracted such a large crowd we had to move to a larger space. More pics here.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is no sitting-down time!”

Memo to SC Progressive Network members, friends and allies:

Take a deep breath, step back, and let’s view Trump’s election as the last gasp of an obsolete system built on white supremacy, lies, and fear. Don’t get me wrong; this last gasp may take a while and be quite messy, but we never thought the revolution of social values would be easy.

The Network’s 20-year-old movement building strategy and “pre-party” organizing analysis is sound and substantiated by this election. The mechanisms of our democracy have been corrupted by money and corporate personhood. We are not yet strong enough to vote ourselves into the promised land.

The contradictions of millions of US citizens living in third world conditions will become more pronounced. It will become more apparent that “less government” and “lower taxes” means working people can’t get a decent education, health care, paved roads or other benefits enjoyed in civilized countries. Trump’s victory is going to make it easier to organize the shift from a thing oriented society to a people oriented society necessary for our survival as a democratic nation.

Too many in the white working class have been led to believe that poor people, minorities and immigrants have caused their problems. Now that their Republican champions hold all the power, they will soon find themselves in the same sorry state and perhaps understand who their real enemies are, as well as their real allies.

On Election Day, we spent 14 hours taking 921 calls from SC voters across the sate who called 866-OUR-VOTE with problems. That’s more than one call every minute. It will take us a while to analyze the calls, determine what problems were systemic or localized, and work to remedy the problems. One type of problem that stood out seemed to be rogue action on the part of poll workers, not election commission employees. The recurring problem of long lines caused by voting machines glitching or not working was anticipated. We’ve been working to get new machines since we bought the ones we’ve been using in 2004 and feel that we have turned the corner in convincing the legislature that our next voting machines should be publicly owned, low tech, and produce a voter verifiable paper ballot.

It is important to note that South Carolina’s voting system works relatively well. In most states, voting is run by a partisan, elected secretary of state. Here, we have an independent State Election Commission. Our 20 years of working with the state and county election boards has shown us that our voting is run reasonably well.

Our problems and our lack of democracy are a result of our state legislature. The majority Republican Party has, over the past 23 years, drawn political district maps to insure they remain the majority party. 78% of voters in SC had only one major party candidate to vote for Tuesday. Most of our legislators are chosen in the primary by fewer than 12% of the voting age population they represent. This is not what democracy looks like.

Across the nation people are pondering what to do in the face of this civic disaster. The Network will keep doing what it has been doing for 20 years. It’s a long, hard job – and we need your help.

What Modjeska Simkins said during the darkest days of the civil rights movement is important to repeat now that there’s little hope of salvation at the ballot box, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is no sitting down time.”

Yours for democracy,
Brett Bursey, SC Progressive Network Director

net19SC Progressive Network founding conference at Penn Center in 1996.

Keeping Simkins’ fighting spirit alive, graduates of Modjeska School talk about lessons learned

7At the SC Progressive Network‘s 20th annual fall conference, Robert Burgess and Daniel Deweese talked about the Modjeska School and their commitment to building a strong social movement in the Palmetto State sustained by a community of organizers in it for the long haul. Burgess and Deweese are core members of the New Legacy Project, an emerging organization for younger activists.