News

On Our Mind: Pride 2020

by Samuel Boehms

The observance of Pride Month serves as a moment of national reflection during which we should pause and think about the challenges facing the LGBTQ communities in America today. However, it is also an opportunity to celebrate how far we have come in the 51 years since the Stonewall riots marked one of the nation’s darkest days in its oppression of LGBTQ people. In the half century since the uprisings, we have reached a level of acceptance that would have been unimaginable to those early pioneers that took to the streets of Greenwich Village in protest for their rights.

Of course, there is the recent Supreme Court decision in Bostock v Clayton County (GA), in which the majority agreed that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for LGBTQ equality a significant, though unexpected, victory.

Just last year, we saw Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay man, become a frontrunner in the primary race for the Democratic presidential nominee. Furthermore, there are 6 people who identify as LGBTQ in statewide elected offices, including 2 governors: Kate Brown in Oregon, and Jared Polis in Colorado; and two U.S. Senators: Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin, and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona. In fact, every state in the nation has openly LGBTQ people elected to political office in some capacity, with over 150 LGBTQ elected officials nationwide. This year, we have the opportunity to elect many more LGBTQ people across the country.

However, our accomplishments go far beyond just the political arena. In 2018, Adam Rippon, an openly gay athlete, made history winning a bronze medal at the 2018 winter Olympics. We have also seen Billy Porter become the first openly gay, black actor to win an Emmy for best lead actor in a drama series. During this Pride Month, these achievements are indeed worth celebrating.

Nevertheless, we still have so much farther to go towards building a country that respects and protects the human rights of all its inhabitants. While it has never been easy to identify as LGBTQ in the US, recent years have seen alarming declines in the acceptance of LGBTQ people amongst certain segments of Americans. These attitudinal shifts have coincided with a series of actions taken by the Trump administration that have stripped crucial legal protections from LGBTQ communities. Despite his initial rhetoric in support of LGBTQ rights, President Trump has systematically reversed key advancements achieved under his predecessor.

In 2017, President Trump announced via twitter that transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the military. The ban was officially implemented by former Secretary of Defense James Mattis in 2018. Lawsuits are ongoing to reverse the policy and protect the rights of current and future US military personnel. However, the Supreme Court has upheld the ban while the legal battle is decided.

While this month the Supreme Court decided in support of LGBTQ communities, there are still many difficult battles to come before all people experience the full enjoyment of their human rights. With so many decisions concerning protections for LGBTQ people appearing before the Supreme Court, it is absolutely necessary that we elect a president this fall that will stand up for LGBTQ communities and appoint Supreme Court justices that will uphold and expand the legal protections to defend Americans against discrimination and prejudice on the condition of who they choose to love or how they decide to identify. Gaining a majority in the Senate would go a long way to furthering protections for the LGBTQ community at the national level - as of 2020, 29 states have not outlawed anti-LGBT discrimination.

Joe Biden has received the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBTQ rights organization. As vice president, Biden spoke out for LGBTQ rights even before President Obama and his 2020 presidential platform has highlighted key measures that he will take as president to advance the LGBTQ movement.

Despite the great victory that LGBTQ communities and their allies won in the US Supreme Court this month, another pivotal battle still lies ahead of us. In 2019, the Equality Act was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives, only to become stalled in the Republican controlled Senate, which has made no effort to pass a bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to affirm the constitutional protection of the rights of LGBTQ people. To protect the rights of all people, we must flip the Senate, and elect candidates that are determined to pass legislation that will defend our LGBTQ communities.

All Americans need to stand together in support of our LGBTQ communities. We cannot allow them to fight the battle for equality alone. Their rights and dignity are under attack by the Trump administration and state governments across the country. We need to mobilize the vote at every level of local and national elections. No matter where you are in the world, remember, your vote matters. Get registered and ready to vote at votefromabroad.org. And tell a friend.

Interested in joining DA's Global LGBTQ+ Caucus? Visit their webpage. If you would like to be active a the local level, contact the DA France LGBTQ+ caucus leaders at lgbtq@democratsabroad.fr.

About the author: Samuel Boehms is a native of Kansas City now living in Paris, France. He served with the Peace Corps mission in Panama and has worked as a community organizer promoting economic, social and environmental rights in Latin America, SE Asia and Europe. He currently works as a human rights advocate at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.


Juneteenth 2020

Juneteenth 2020

We were told once, by virtue of our bondage, that we could never be American.

But it was by virtue of our bondage that we became the most American of all.”

Hannah Nikole Jones, 1619 Project

As we celebrate Juneteenth this year it is painfully obvious the struggle for freedom continues to be a long, hard road 154 years after Emancipation. From the first slave ship to the latest act of brutality and prejudice, the institutionalized system of racism and inequality continues to work as it was designed. It denies full citizenship and equality to African-Americans. 

Over 400 years we have been enslaved, murdered, tortured, terrorized, emotionally scarred, economically impoverished, starved of educational resources… The list could go on. The fact we are still fighting shows the strength of our character and belief in what the United States is supposed to be. The struggle for equal rights and opportunity requires the country to live up to its full aspirational potential.

The African-American contribution to the U.S. is immense and immeasurable. The country was literally built on our backs. From the beginning we did the work to build an economic powerhouse but have yet to meaningfully benefit in that wealth. Deprived of everything except our love, spirit and faith we have strived to build lives and fulfil the American Dream. Through hardship and pain African-Americans still shine bright and drive global culture. As comedian Paul Mooney says, “the Black man in America is the most copied man on this planet, bar none” and to paraphrase Maya Angelou, “Still We Rise”.

Without struggle there is no progress so this Juneteenth let us continue to fight the struggle, recognize our progress and prepare for the battles we have yet to face.  Let us take advantage of the current sad state of affairs to effect real change. Most importantly your voice must be heard. Make sure you are registered to vote in this year’s election.

I leave you with a poem describing the sorrow, joy, heartache and anger of the Black experience in America. The poem, A Study in a Lifetime of Elegies, is part of a portfolio which won the 2020 Gold Medal Portfolio at the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards. The author is Emory Brinson.

Reed Kennedy

Co-Chair, Democrats Abroad France - Diversity Caucus

June 19th, 2020


A Study in a Lifetime of Elegies

Personal Essay & Memoir, 

Emory Brinson, Grade 12, South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte, NC

I. In which I mourn the living.

On September 6th, 2018, Botham Shem Jean dies after an off-duty Dallas police officer illegally enters his home and shoots him twice. The story settles into my veins like ice, and it is all too easy for me to picture his terrified face as he is startled by an armed intruder, only to die at her hands. I try not to picture my uncle or father in his place, instead, I watch my mother react to the story. I can see past her painted concealer mask, and like all black women, she harbors an aching sadness for her brothers, husbands, and fathers. To me and her, it seems like death is always one step away. I’ve been waiting for my father to die since I understood what it meant to be black in this country. Have you ever mourned someone who was still living?

It isn’t like watching a trainwreck in slow motion. This is an endless funeral. They roll the caskets out one by one, and my dreamscape is painted in black hues. I wake gasping with the image of my little brother laid in white burning in my eyes. Open casket funerals have been in style since Emmett Till’s mother told the mortician to show the world what they did to her little boy. There are no secrets anymore, and the camera flashes hold the locks open anyway.

I look into the mirror and wonder what I am supposed to see. Do my full lips and natural hair tell a story of danger or call into question my intent? I look at my father and try to look past his kind heart and iron-clad morals to see what they must find at first glance. I take in his powerful shoulders and calloused hands, and for the first time, I wonder if people look at him with fear. Suddenly, I am terrified of losing him to the preconceptions in their heads. Why can’t they see what I do?

There is an ache that wraps itself around my ribs; it is a constant noose of loss. For the first time, I can see the fearful beast that bares its chest in the place of a person. Understand, this country is committing men to death by prejudice and perpetrating genocide on a systematic level. I have mourned more men in my 16 years than I dare say most will lose in a lifetime. I wait for a day in which children will not have to know this heartbreak with frantic breaths and a mess of tangled veins in my chest.

II. In which my father and I come to an understanding.

On a Friday night in December, we watch Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. I ignore the discomfort watching the police beat Radio Raheem to death with popcorn grease on my fingers causes me. As the credits roll, I catch glimpses of my father’s childhood between the black and white text, and his desperation for us to watch this movie finally makes sense. For the first time, I can see him in his true form. His New York accent has faded after 25 years in the south, but there are parts of him that are straight from the rough streets and cramped bodegas of his hometown. It’s in the way he pronounces coffee, the heavy set of his shoulders, and the way he is undeniably straight out of this film.

On the screen, the character DaMayer tells Mookie in a Brooklyn accent almost too thick to understand, “Always do the right thing.” My father, for better or worse, has always lived his life by this rule; he is protective of his pride and family, never strays from his perception of the “right” thing, and is a stickler for fair treatment. There are some principles that ingrain themselves into your bone marrow and shape all actions you take from there on out. If I peeled back my father’s thick skin I would find those words burned into the white of his bones. I know this to be true in the same way that I know the sun will rise in the morning.

He turns up the stereo volume while we drive past a group of policemen, the words, “F**K THE POLICE” blaring out of all four open windows while we speed by. I’m horrified, but the story he tells me afterward shifts my worldview once again. He’s not quiet or ashamed as he unravels the memory, because my father never is, but I can’t help but wonder if that is the New Yorker in him, or if he was simply born with an unwavering spine. He paints a picture of a little black boy growing up on the outer edge of New York City in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Raw emotion courses through his voice as he tells me about the police pulling him over on his bike in 8th grade. I can imagine him with a painstaking clarity, only 13 but terrified he wouldn’t make it home for dinner because someone decided he didn’t belong. I ache for him, and I am reminded of my own brother, who looks so much like what my father must have at that age.

It isn’t until after Botham Jean that he tells me another story. He describes trying to unlock his door as a college student in upstate New York, only for an NYPD officer to tackle him. The policeman calls for backup, and within minutes six police officers are arresting him for trespassing on his own property. Yet again, I am learning to understand my father in ways I could never have imagined. His distrust of the police is one that has blossomed from years of prejudice and attacks. Though I can’t always agree with him or his methods, I can understand on an intrinsic level where that pain and hurt stems from.

In the days after I first watch Do the Right Thing, I see the parts he tried to leave behind. New York didn’t make him, nor did his experiences with law enforcement, but both have shaped him in ways I can only attempt to understand.

III. In which I find out what it means to exist in this country while black.

I have always known that being black in America inherently meant being viewed as dangerous. Every day passes like a hunt in the desert of our distant home. This is predation on a big city scale, and they have turned me into prey. The knowledge is passed through the generations: blowing into my mind with the faint bellow of a slave ship’s horn, and the stench of sweat wafting from the fields. Every people must pass down something to the new generation to preserve the years of history that have built them up from the black soil of a shared homeland. For me, it is the image of my great-grandmother, holding tight to her son and begging with harsh words and soft hands for him to stay out of trouble as the radio blared about that boy who was lynched in Mississippi. The memory has always existed in my mind, smudged with the inconsistencies of old stories, and somehow smelling just like the bitter salt of chitterlings.

Two black men are arrested for sitting in a Starbucks without purchasing anything, and the incident becomes the spark to a Twitter firestorm. It seems like every day that social media is popping up with another “Living While Black” Moment. White women and men have been calling the police on black people living their lives for as long as they have been able to, but now instead of silently suffering the uncomfortable consequences of being born black, the victims were taking to Twitter. The stories that go viral act as a window into the harsh realities that had previously been shoved under the rug that is the privilege of white ignorance. There is a difference, however, between knowing that these things happen and watching a video of a white woman screaming for the police to arrest a little boy for selling water. The situations usually resulted in a slap on the wrist with no harm done on either side, but it begs the question: how much anguish can the Black American psyche take before the constant insinuation that they are less than starts to sink in?

The sweltering summer of 2018 bleeds into the sharp chill of Autumn, and I find pieces of myself among the bright orange chrysanthemums my neighbor plants. The day after the flowers bloom, the moving sign in her yard gets a shiny new addition; a plaque swings in the wind and the word SOLD sinks into my stomach like lead. The moving trucks blew in with the first jack o’ lantern, and with it came a growing nervousness in my mother. The new couple was likely nice enough, but the images of the innocent black children splashed across Twitter were still fresh in our minds. “I’m going over to introduce myself and make it clear that 5 black children live on this cul de sac. I don’t want there to be any confusion about who belongs in this neighborhood.” The subtext isn’t subtle: she wasn’t going to let these new neighbors treat us as if we didn’t belong, and there was no telling what kind of assumptions could be made from a quick glance while we stepped under the streetlight on the way to the bus stop.

Other people hoped to make nice with the new neighbors to avoid complaints about loud Christmas parties, but my mother wanted to make sure they knew we belonged. She was saying, “Look. These are my brown children, and they live here, just like you.” This is our persistent reality; a life of constant motion, always watching for the next predator who waits in the pale brush, preparing to pounce.

IV. In which I discover that differences lie deeper than skin.

Growing up, I often longed to be more like everyone around me, but I never felt more like an outsider than at my middle school. That wasn’t always the case. In fact, for the most part, it was a positive experience. I learned an abundance about the world and myself from my teachers and classmates, but one thing they never needed to teach me was that I wasn’t like them. Being one of three African American girls in the grade left me with the constant knowledge in the back of my head that, as much as I tried to blend in with my classmates, I would always be different. Most of the time it remained in the background, but other times I wore it like a bleeding brand. I bore the nervous looks during slavery and civil rights units, tried not to roll my eyes when at least fifteen people congratulated me after President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, and quietly acquiesced to reading off black history facts.

Every. Single. February. Still, there are turning points to every story.

On August 9th, 2014, Michael Brown is murdered, the Black Lives Matter movement emerges from the ashes of the burning buildings in Ferguson, Missouri, and my world shifts on its axis. I struggle to come to terms with the idea that there is violence affecting my people in a way I haven’t truly understood until this point, but the other kids are angrily protecting the police.

They scream “All Lives Matter” and spit when they dare to say his name. In those familiar halls, Michael becomes synonymous with thug, and I learn to walk with my head down. They act as if he isn’t worth the same amount of space they are, and by association, I suddenly wonder about the amount of room I take up on the stairwell. They look to me with expectant eyes, but what can I say in response when I see him in every family photo that hangs on our wall? When I look in the mirror?

I was floating alone in a sea of people who didn’t understand how close to home a shooting 724.1 miles away could feel, and the loneliness was beginning to eat away at my sparkling worldview.

V. In which I am learning how to not be afraid.

I am no stranger to fear. It has taken the shape of maggots to eat away at my insides since I learned the difference between denotation and connotation. In these terms, the space between what black means and what this country hears instead is big enough to hold a slave ship worth of bodies. I am terrified of watching my family die at the hands of a nation that doesn’t care about them. I am afraid of losing myself in the mass of people who cannot help but see me as less than, who can never understand what it means to exist as a black woman in this country. Still, I am slowly learning how to turn fear’s shape into something more.

I have spent a lifetime studying the elegies that define the lives of girls that look like me. We live, trapped in the grip of injustice and death. Every day we are threatened with the stench of terror, waiting around every corner to remind us of our place. Still, we have a choice. There is loss all around us, yes, but there is also joy. While videos of police brutality circle the internet, inspiring messages of hate and disgust and reminding us that we are in a world that sees us as inferior, so are images of women with broad hats, waiting to serve hungry children with warmth and love. Even as I feel compelled to write elegy after elegy, wracked with fear of the future and sorrow from the past, I recognize the opportunity to write odes and sonnets in honor of the men and women who inspire everything I do. Every day, I find myself celebrating our durability. Here there is fear, and here there is love.

This is my pledge: I will elegize and mourn and dig into the melancholy sitting heavy on my mother’s shoulders, and yes, I will fear, but I will also move this world one step closer to understanding and compassion and overwhelming love whenever I can. I have the opportunity to bring understanding to the people who want to learn, and I have the chance to grow myself. Maybe this realization, the recognition of the complexity of our world, is the distinction between girl and woman. I am still learning what it means to exist as a sister in this country, but what I know is this: the time for mourning is over. This is not the age of fear, but instead resilience.

Like my mother, I stare down the world and I say,

“Look, we are here, just like you.”


DAFrance News and Events: June

Happy Pride Month! Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pride Month, with the LGBTQ+ community taking their events online around the world. Check out a Virtual Dance Party, and a Big Gay Pub Quiz Fun(draiser) supporting Democrats Abroad's critical "get out the vote" efforts.

The Black Lives Matter movement has rocked the world, with protests and demands for real systemic change across Europe, even as things have intensified in the United States. WATCH South Carolina native son, Paris Chapter Chair, and Diversity Caucus Co-Chair Reed Kennedy’s interview with France 24 (English), talking about how this time things might be different than in the past:

“The difference is you see what used to be called the “silent majority”... which did not feel that racism was a serious problem… has become a minority. That is the big difference now.” 

Georgia's primary elections on June 9 were a catastrophe, but not an accident. This month we bring the fight to protect the vote to you, with conversations with former Presidential Candidate and former DNC Chair Howard Dean as he shares his views on what its going to take to win, and also as he looks at how we can overcome voter suppression, maladministration, and misinformation this November. TAKE ACTION to protect the vote -- join us for a 1-hour call and tweet storm to push Congress on protecting the USPS, ballot return by email or online, and vote-by-mail. We're still phonebanking and have added new training dates, below.

SIGN UP for a virtual organizing workshop with the DA France's Rise & Organize "Road Show" where we will help our DA members, activists, and leaders get ready for the most important election of our lifetimes. Check out Paris/Ile de France on June 20th, and "France Nord": Brittany, Normany, and Strasbourg Chapters on June 24 — with more to come!

Congratulations to the delegation elected to represent Democrats Abroad at the Democratic National Convention this August. Special shout outs to those from France: Anne Dlugosz, who will be attending as a delegate for Sanders, and Joe Smallhoover, one of our newest DNC representatives. Thanks to all the amazing candidates who stepped up to run!

REPLAY: Watch Global Black Caucus' Black Lives Matter Vigil, here. Check out Robert Reich's talk with DA. Check out election data whiz David Shor. Download the final DA Platform that was adopted, here

Please like, follow, and share DA France politics, activism, and elections news you can use. Want to volunteer? Click here. To donate to DA France: Click here

ONWARD!

• • •

DA FRANCE
National Events Calendar
As of June 17, 2020

Phonebanking with the Youth Caucus!

This is a recurring event.

Every Saturday the DA France Youth Caucus is hosting a virtual phonebank (via Zoom) calling thousands of US Democratic voters living in France to make sure they are registered and ready to vote in critical Presidential, Senate and House races this fall. We need your help. You must be a member of Democrats Abroad France to help make these calls, if you aren't already: join here

Get Trained with DA France
For the 90 minutes we will walk through phonebanking training using CallHub, including some new features specific to France. We can also answer questions you may have, and support each other as we call voters.

If you have done the training, and are comfortable phone banking, then you know you can make calls from home any time, to US voters around the world — there is no reason to wait until Saturday or join our Zoom to make calls, but please feel free to come by, say hi and share your experiences calling others.

1-2:30PM - Phonebanking Training
2:30-5PM - Phonebanking, Q&A

Via Zoom - link in RSVP

Before Saturday
Sign up to become a call agent with CallHub: www.democratsabroad.org/phonebanking.


DA France Rise + Organize Road Show - Paris / Ile de France

PARIS / ILE DE FRANCE REGION
JUNE 20, 2020
2-4PM

Join us for virtual organizing workshops "across France" over the next few weeks — find out what you can do to volunteer and help get ready for the most important election of our lives. We will discuss topics like ways you can help, how to find and mobilize voters in your community, how to effectively use social media to help people register to vote, how to help people register to vote, and more! Suitable for all levels of organizing experience and interest. 


Phonebanking 101

This is a recurring event.

Phonebanking 101 Wednesdays! Get started with phonebanking from scratch — or just pop by for a refresher. Join DA France Phonebanking Coordinators Mickey and Julie to get trained for the DA France phonebanking campaigns -- help us contact thousands of Democratic voters across France!

Rise + Organize Road Show: France Nord (Brittany, Normandy, Strasbourg)

FRANCE NORD: BRITTANY, NORMANDY, STRASBOURG CHAPTERS
JUNE 25
6-8PM

Join us for virtual organizing workshops "across France" over the next few weeks — find out what you can do to volunteer and help get ready for the most important election of our lives. We will discuss topics like ways you can help, how to find and mobilize voters in your community, how to effectively use social media to help people register to vote, how to help people register to vote, and more! Suitable for all levels of organizing experience and interest.


Political Forum: Current Events

Tuesday, June 30 at 7:00 PM

Join Political Forum host Jean-Pierre LaRochelle as he brings the popular Paris political discussion group online, to discuss the most pressing news and events of the day. Questions? jeanpierre-paris@hotmail.fr. 

Via Zoom - meeting link will be sent with RSVP


On Our Mind: Gerrymandering

Image from Slate.com

"Conservative lawmakers are conjuring up voter suppression tactics ahead of the election this year so they can manipulate the maps in 2021. From forcing voters to cast their ballots in-person during a pandemic to imposing restrictive photo ID requirements, hyper-partisan officials would rather dilute certain votes to hold on to power than be held accountable in a system of fair representation. To return our government to everyday people, it's going to take folks like us stepping up.

For decades, we've seen conservatives deconstruct "big government" initiatives. But that destruction hit a boiling point after the 2011 redistricting process.

By gerrymandering themselves into power, conservatives were able to use their state-level majorities to hollow out government capacity -- from gutting environmental protections that safeguard our health to reversing common-sense gun violence prevention laws that were meant to keep our communities safe.

With gerrymandered districts, state legislators became beholden to tea party extremists, the Koch brothers, and ALEC -- instead of their constituents." National Democratic Redistricting Committee

Gerrymandering, of course, targets for disenfranchisement people of color, young voters, and poorer voters. Hot beds of gerrymandering are Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin...among many others. Do you want to learn more about what the National Democratic Redistricting Committee is doing to combat gerrymandering in the 2020 elections? Go to their website: https://democraticredistricting.com/

Here's how it's done:

Thanks to Stephanie Lenogue for creating this infographic expressly for DA France.


From the DNC: Black Lives Matter Organizing Resources

(Note: The following is a reprint from the Democrats.org website. They will be updating this page with additional resources as they become available.)

As Democrats, we are committed to fighting back against racial injustice and police brutality, and we’re working every day to ensure this country lives up to the basic ideals of its founding. 

We hope you’ll join us in taking direct action to root out the poison of racism that pervades every facet of our society — because so long as Black men and women can’t breathe, we cannot rest. Complicity costs lives, and it’s on all of us to fix this. 

Petitions

Breonna Taylor
Sign this petition to call for the firing of the officers who killed Breonna Taylor.

Police Reform
Sign on to Color of Change’s platform of structural demands to reduce, over time, the impacts of policing in concrete and tangible ways.

NAACP ‘We Are Done Dying’ Campaign
Add your name to support reforms to criminal justice, economic, health, and voting policy.

Black Lives Matter has organized a more extensive list of petitions you can sign here.


Calls

One of the easiest and most important steps we can take is calling for our elected officials to hold police accountable for their role in the killing of Black people.

Call the Louisville Mayor at 502-574-2003 and urge that the officer responsible for Breonna Taylor’s murder be held accountable.


Organizations to join

Color of Change is working to hold the officers who killed both George Floyd and Breonna Taylor accountable and fighting for a platform that ends the senseless killing of Black people in this country.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund fights for racial justice through advocacy, litigation, and public education.

The ACLU just filed a lawsuit against Minnesota law enforcement and provides supporters with detailed guides on their rights as they join protests. Share their video if you or people you know are joining protesters in the coming days.


Other ways to get involved

The Movement for Black Lives is hosting a week of action this week and asking folks all over the country to join them in the continued defense of black lives.

Call your representatives! Ask them to support a resolution brought by Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Karen Bass, and Barbara Lee to condemn racial profiling, police brutality, and the use of excessive force. Find your reps and give them a call here.

Senator Brian Schatz announced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to end the 1033 Program, which equips local law enforcement with used military equipment like armored vehicles and bayonets. This is a great step in the direction of demilitarizing our police but will need broad support in the Senate. Find your senators and contact them here.

Add some literature on anti-racism to your reading list! Listen to podcasts to help deepen your anti-racist work! (1619, Pod Save the People, and Intersectionality Matters! with Kimberlé Crenshaw are just a few good ones) Watch movies that lay bare this country’s racist roots. Educating ourselves on America’s history of racism is the only way we can take steps to untangle ourselves from the systemic racism that permeates all our daily lives.

 

Want to have an impact closer to home? Volunteer with Democrats Abroad France to get out the vote. Sign up here.

Make sure you’re registered to vote and everyone you know is also registered to vote at votefromabroad.org.

 


It's about the heroes who served

Photo by Valentino Funghi

Memorial Day: Remember and Honor

Often conflated with Veterans Day, which pays tribute to military veterans every November 11thMemorial Day is the day we honor the women and men who died while serving in the US Armed Forces in all wars.

There are some things that Gold Star families want you to know this Memorial Day. From the Military Times,

"In today's world, some think Memorial Day is solely dedicated to the fallen from decades-old wars...'Freedom is not free,' and in our post 9/11 world, personal freedoms can't be taken for granted.  All currently serving military personnel contribute in some way to protecting our freedoms; some pay dearly. Memorial Day is for honouring those who have recently died, too." 

The origins of Memorial Day, initially called Decoration Day, date back to the Civil War - where the custom of decorating the graves of lost soldiers began.  Its date (formally May 30th although always recognized at the end of May) was chosen expressly because it wasn’t associated with a specific battle. It became an official holiday in 1971.  

Progress takes time...


Memorial Day 2020

LEST WE EVER FORGET

Quarantine won't stop us from remembering the fallen on Memorial Day

Memorial Day will be different this year. There may not be any large gatherings or services in France but we can still honor the men and women who lost their lives defending our freedoms.

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry's shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
Or the drum's redoubling beat.

Decoration Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Democrats Abroad France will be sending wreaths to be laid by the cemetery staff during small ceremonies around the country: Lafayette Monument and in Suresnes, Belleau Wood, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argonne. In the Tarn, flowers will be laid at the graves of the two OSS Commandos downed during WWII.

Wreaths will also be laid at the graves of those who died during World War I:

At the Lafayette Monument, Carter Ovington, a pilot who was downed and was never recovered will be remembered. He has a tomb in the crypt but is special in that he is M.I.A.

At Suresnes, Private Mitchell Davis will be remembered. A Howard University Law Graduate and one of the Afro-American soldiers who died during the Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918, he wrote a book entitled "One Hundred Choice Quotations" by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race:

"Through avalanches of prejudices; industrial barriers; professional intrigues; legal technicalities; diplomatic effronteries, and political buffetings, the American Negro has, at last arrived before the public eye, as a factor not easily to be evaded."  

- One Hundred Choice Quotations by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race, 1917 by Mitchell Davis

At Belleau Wood, PVT Hercules Grays from the 369th Infantry Regiment also known as the Harlem hellfighters” will be remembered. You can find more information on this unit here.

Another Afro-American, Private William Cuff will be honored at Oise-Asne. He is a recipient (Posthumous) of the American Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star. 

To help cover the costs of the wreaths, we ask you to consider making a donation to Democrats Abroad France. To donate, please click here.

Also, consider posting pictures on social media of those you wish to honor and remember on Memorial Day. Or, ask those who were going to participate in a service to share a message from their home.


DAFrance News and Events: May update

 

Watch Stewart Copeland of THE POLICE Sending out an SOS to Americans Abroad! 
Get registered and ready to vote @ www.VotefromAbroad.org

Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders named the co-chairs and members of their joint task forces — including AOC and SecState John Kerry as Co-Chairs on Climate Change. The task forces “will meet in advance of the Democratic National Convention to make recommendations to the DNC Platform Committee” and to Biden directly. 

From Politico:
Biden said in a statement that a “united party is key to defeating” the president in six months, as well as “moving our country forward through an unprecedented crisis.” The task forces “will be essential to identifying ways to build on our progress and not simply turn the clock back to a time before Donald Trump, but transform our country,” he said.

“In the midst of the unprecedented economic and pandemic crises we face, the Democratic Party must think big, act boldly, and fight to change the direction of this country,” Sanders said in his statement, adding: “I commend Joe Biden for working together with my campaign to assemble a group of leading thinkers and activists who can and will unify our party in a transformational and progressive direction.”

The EMEA Regional Convention took place virtually all day Saturday May 16. Congratulations to the following representatives from EMEA who have just been elected to join the Democrats Abroad 2020 DNC delegation, be a 2020-2024 DNC member, or join the DA 2020 Global Platform committee:

⭐ 2020-2024 Democrats Abroad DNC member - Katie Solon (DE)
⭐ 2020 DA Sanders delegates - Diego Rivas (DE), Anne Dlugosz (FR), Farid Ben Amor (CH)
⭐ 2020 DA Biden delegates - Juan Cerda (AT), Marisa Grimes (RW), Onelica Andrade (BE)
⭐ 2020 DA Platform committee members - Heather Stone (IL) & Nathan Zaccai (UK) 

• • •

POLITICAL FORUM: ELECTIONS 2020
Tuesday, May 19 @ 7P
RSVP here

Join Political Forum host Jean-Pierre LaRochelle as he lays out the electoral math and likely paths to winning the White House in November. We will also discuss key Senate and State races up for grabs.
Email questions:
jeanpierre-paris@hotmail.fr.

• • •

ELECTIONS DATA WHIZ: DAVID SHOR
Friday, May 22 @ 3:30P France
RSVP here

Can data analytics tell us where we need to be by November 2020? How will the coronavirus pandemic change campaigning and polling? What are the best messages to persuade people to vote? As a young whiz on former President Barack Obama's data analytics team in the 2012 election, David Shor predicted the results within 1 percentage point in all 50 states. Have a question for David? Email it here.

• • •

PHONEBANKING FRANCE WITH THE YOUTH CAUCUS
Saturday, May 23
1-2PM - Phonebanking Training
2-5PM - Phonebanking, Q&A
RSVP here

Help us call thousands of US voters in France to make sure they are registered and ready to vote this fall!

• • •

POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, AUTHOR, ACTIVIST:
ROBERT REICH
Friday May 29th, 2020 @ 5PM France  
RSVP here

Robert Reich’s political and government experience spans decades, including serving on President Barack Obama's economic transition advisory board and four years as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. A prolific and bestselling author, Reich has published more than a dozen books and has co-created two award-winning Netflix documentaries, Inequality for All and Saving Capitalism. His new book, The System: Who Rigged It, and How We Fix It analyses how we came to the current fraught economic and political situation, and how we can change the system to serve the many rather than the elite few.
Have a question for Robert? Email it here.

• • •

GLOBAL LGBTQI CAUCUS: SOLIDARITY SUNDAY
LGBTQI CIVIL RIGHTS PIONEER
CLEVE JONES
"
THIS IS NOT MY FIRST PANDEMIC”
Sunday, May 31 @ 5PM France
RSVP here

 

Cleve will discuss and draw the parallels between the AIDS and COVID-19 government then and now. Both pandemics began with a Republican president in the White House who did not perceive the gravity of the situation and failed to lead the country. Hosted by the Global LGBTQI Caucus and DA Austria.

 


DA France News and Events: May

Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! As we celebrate the Asian and Pacific Islander American experience, it's important to understand the spike in racist attacks and hate crimes people in this community are experiencing. Read more about it, and what to do about it, in Quyen Ngyen’s (Colombia) first-hand account “Racism doesn’t exist here.”

An Asian American/Pacific Islander Caucus is being formed at the DA Global level -- within DA France, caucus members are a part of our Diversity Caucus. Please email Ada Shen at chair@democratsabroad.fr if you are interested in helping with the AAPI global caucus from France. All are welcome.

To find out more about Democrats Abroad Global Caucuses and to join, please see here.

Rapid Response Needed: Destroy the Post Office, and you destroy democracy. We must take action to save the USPS, here, and to learn how to use ResistBot at the same time. “Simply put, if you hate the Post Office then you hate America.... We need to all lean on our members of Congress — regardless of party — to lean on the White House to save our Post Office before September.”

The working draft of the 2020 Democrats Abroad Platform is now available(click here to download and open the PDF file): Draft - 2020 Platform. The platform expresses DA’s political values and policy goals, and is the result of over 10,000 comments submitted over the past six months. Please provide YOUR comment here: Platform Feedback Form. Please respond by May 15, ideally, as electors will vote on the platform during the DA Regional Conventions (May 16) and Global Convention (June 6).


MAY EVENTS:

POLITICAL FORUM: ELECTIONS 2020

Tuesday, May 19 @ 7:00pm

RSVP here

Join Political Forum host Jean-Pierre LaRochelle as he lays out the electoral math and likely paths to winning the White House in November. Email questions:jeanpierre-paris@hotmail.fr.

There's More To Come in May!

Keep your eyes peeled for notices from DA Global (info@democratsabroad.org) about upcoming webinars with these amazing speakers.

  • Elections data whiz, David Shor - Friday, May 22 - details TBA
  • Economist, Author, former US Labor Secretary, Robert Reich - Friday, May 29 - details TBA

Did you know that US overseas voters must register/request their ballot every calendar year they want to vote?

👉Phonebanking thousands of US voters across France is underway, to make sure those requests are in. Want to help make calls? Get started with phonebanking, here.

👉Need to register/request a ballot yourself? Go to www.Votefromabroad.org.

Please like, follow, and share DA France politics, activism, and elections news you can use on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Want to volunteer? Click here.

To donate to DA France: Click here.

THANK YOU for your support.


Save the United States Postal Service

Please take action today to save the United States Postal Service. We need to protect our votes!

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is in a dire situation. According to the Postmaster General, between June and September of this year the USPS will run out of money and will be forced to cease operations. This, only months ahead of the November General Election.

Needless to say, without a functioning postal service, our votes from abroad will be effectively suppressed.  

The USPS has had operating issues for over a decade. However, the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have gravely exacerbated the issue of decreased volumes that has plagued the agency over the past years. 

Unsurprisingly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Republican Members of Congress have to-date refused to include the Postal Service in any coronavirus relief legislation, privatizing mail delivery being a long-term goal of the conservative movement. Donald Trump reportedly had said that he would block emergency funding for the agency, putting at risk the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) if the legislation had contained any money directed to bail out the postal agency.

In this critical election year where we need every vote to be counted, we cannot standby and allow the next Coronavirus stimulus bill to exclude full funding and protection for the USPS and the vote-by-mail ballots sent by overseas voters. 

Here is a quick, easy action that we all can take today! Use Resistbot to send an email to each of your Members of Congress. Resistbot will find out who represents you in Congress, turn your text into an email and deliver it to your representatives. 1-2-3.

Read more