Thousands brave stormy weather in Columbia to rally in solidarity with people around globe

SC Progressive Network Co-Chair Marjorie Hammock welcomes the overflow crowd at Music Farm, the rally’s rain location. See more photos in our album.

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Thundershowers didn’t dampen the spirits of the thousands who gathered in Columbia on the first day of the new administration. The rally was held in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, held in cities across the state and around the globe.

It was more than a rally. It was a call to action. Saturday’s post-rally strategy summit opened with this video from Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter.

It was followed by speakers from some of the summit’s 43 partnering organizations, spoken word artists, gospel, and drumming. The mood was electric.

The extraordinary poet Nikky Finney and Dr. Akan Malici offered powerful moments.

Daniel Deweese of the New Legacy Project challenged the young people in the crowd to get busy and “dream dangerously.”

The day concluded with participants breaking into issue caucuses and planning next steps.

Follow-up meetings are being planned for Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville. Bookmark the Network’s web site to stay in touch. If haven’t signed up yet, subscribe to our e-list.

Finally, please read Meeghan Kane‘s piece and watch Betty Benns‘ video at Auntie Bellum. It will inspire you.

Keep the faith. As the James Brothers reminded us on Saturday, “all things are possible, if you only believe.”

Amen.

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.

Onward!

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.