Change Starts with Just a SPARK of Justice. Give Back Today!

Gving Tuesday HeaderDear Friends,

We are at an important crossroads when it comes to the health and rights of Black women and Queer and Trans youth of color in the state of Georgia.

During the 2014 Legislative Session, House Bill 990 passed, adding yet another barrier to closing the coverage gap for low-income uninsured Georgians by requiring that Medicaid expansion meet the approval of the State legislature. Compounding this loss, conservative leadership was re-elected to every constitutional office during the 2014 mid-term elections, and marginalized communities, particularly Queer and Trans youth of color, continue to be denied access to media to tell their own stories of reproductive oppression.

Thanks to the support of reproductive justice advocates like you, SPARK is able to fight back, giving a voice to Black women and Queer and Trans youth of color, that are often overlooked. In order to continue our efforts, we need your help!

SPARK is the only organization in the Deep South that actively organizes local communities, mobilizes activists, and advocates for policies that improve the lives of Black women and Queer and Trans youth of color. Our programming develops leaders from marginalized communities to participate in the legislative process; trains media spokespersons to tell their own stories, offers political analysis; and mobilizes diverse leaders throughout the Atlanta area to support policies and practices that ensure reproductive freedom for all.

  1. Our Speak Justice Take Action Program allows us to educate our constituency on the legislative process and offers policy analysis using a queer political frame. Through this program, we have developed leaders from marginalized communities to speak to the Georgia legislature and administrators about women’s health, reproductive justice, and the health coverage gap, criminalization of women and families, and voting rights. This year, we hosted our eighth annual “Legislate THIS!” Day of Action bringing 59 community members to the Georgia State Capitol, lobbied 20 representatives, and empowered 4 youth leaders to share their stories.
  1. Our Fierce Youth Reclaiming & Empowering Program and FYRE Media Justice Camp (FMJC) allows us to provide Queer and Trans youth of color with the skills and resources to generate their own media and strengthen their communities through peer support and community based-research published through blogs, editorials, social media, and television and radio interviews to combat mainstream narratives that overlook our communities. In our 2014 FMJC, we hosted 10 Queer youth of color and produced 3 blogs and 3 short films on the coverage gap, abortion, and violence experienced by Queer and Trans youth of color.
  1. SPARK’s Integrated Voter Engagement Program has been highly successful. This program centers around educating women of color voters and their families across the greater Atlanta area on issues ranging from education, community violence, and police misconduct to health care. SPARK also empowered voters to share their health care access stories in light of the coverage gap caused Georgia’s shameful refusal to participate in Medicaid expansion. Through our Integrated Voter Engagement Program, SPARK touched 4,273 voters and their families through door knocking, telephone canvassing, and a direct mail campaign. In addition, we targeted outreach to LGBTQQ youth of color voters via a Twitter chat.

As we move into 2015, SPARK recognizes that the work that we do is pivotal to building and sustaining a reproductive justice movement in the South. We know that our efforts can inspire new grassroots leadership, stand in solidarity with and support the small cadre of organizations during similar work in Georgia and throughout the Southern region, and show the powerbrokers in Georgia that the best way to make sustainable change starts with just a spark of justice.

We stand firm in our commitment to work with our partners to make a difference in our communities regardless of the conservative super-majority that makes up the Georgia legislature. Failure is not an option!

Please join us by signing on to our team of Sustaining Donors today. Give to ensure that reproductive justice in the South can inspire change throughout the nation.

Thank you for your commitment and support.

Sincerely,

Heidi Williamson, Board President
SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW

In Our Own Voices: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda Statement in Solidarity with the Family of Michael Brown

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PRESS CONTACT
Marcela Howell
202.326.8700
mhowell@ccmc.org

This Thanksgiving, we hugged our children, grateful for their presence in the safety of our families, but pained by the necessity to once again explain the horrible tragedy that marked the death of another young Black man. It was a difficult discussion that we know was repeated among Black families across the country.

We cried for the family of Michael Brown who not only had to spend this Thanksgiving with the tragic loss of their son, but also with the travesty of a justice system that refused to grant their family justice.

As Reproductive Justice organizations, we believe that all women have the right to have children, the right to not have children and the right to nurture the children we have in safe and healthy environments. For Lesley McSpadden that meant raising her son Michael, watching him mature, marry, have his own children and grow old. In just a matter of minutes on a hot afternoon in August, Officer Darren Wilson took that right away from her.

For three long months, we joined her in praying that justice would come out of the deliberations of this grand jury, though our prayers were full of doubt that a racist justice system would be turned around overnight. But we hoped, that at a minimum, there would be a trial to account for this brutal murder and the indignity of leaving Michael’s body in the hot sun for hours.

Instead of justice, we saw a prosecuting attorney who blamed the victim for his own death, who called witnesses liars, and who casually dismissed his manipulation of the members of the grand jury. Instead of justice, we saw Officer Wilson’s coldhearted shrugs during an interview in which he declared that he would not be ‘haunted’ by the shooting of this unarmed young man.

The grand jury decision to not indict sends a message that the state sanctioned murders of young Black men will continue. And like the aftermath of the 1831 Nat Turner revolution where colonists beheaded enslaved Africans, leaving their heads on the road as warnings to other enslaved Africans who craved freedom, callously leaving Michael’s body on the ground in the hot sun was a warning to others that their lives could just as easily be sacrificed.

The laws of this country were not written to protect, respect or serve Black communities. So we call on the U.S. Department of Justice to continue its investigation into police misconduct and excessive use of force in Ferguson, Missouri. We call on President Obama to take a leadership role in denouncing the biased manipulations of the prosecuting attorney. In this tragic moment in history we seek leadership to move us forward not to hold steady the status quo.

We raise our voices and stand in solidarity with the families of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Gardner, John Crawford, Trayvon Martin, Joell Anderson, Andy Lopez, Renisha McBride, Oscar Grant, Jordan Davis, Sean Bell, Ezell Ford, Ayanna Standley Jones, Yvette Smith and the countless, countless others who have lost their lives to a lawless police system.

In Our Own Voices: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national initiative formed by five Black women’s Reproductive Justice organizations: Black Women for Wellness Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices Pittsburgh, SisterLove, Inc. and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, in partnership with the Communications Consortium Media Center.

We Are Here. We Are Strong. We Matter.

During the 2014 FYRE Media Justice Camp, 10 youth of color came together from three Southern states to develop short films and blogs that touched on various issues important to them as Queer and Trans youth of color living in the South. One group chose to use their stories as Black Queer youth to highlight the disproportionate amount of violence faced by Queer and Trans people of color and women of color.

From the Missouri Grand Jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, to Marissa Alexander having to accept a plea deal to avoid a lengthy prison term for daring to defend herself in the face of domestic violence – our media has become inundated with countless examples of violence perpetrated against people of color, particularly Black communities.

During this time, we feel that it is important to amplify and center the voices of queer and trans youth of color in the fight against systemic oppression. Please listen, share the stories of these amazing young leaders, and join us as we continue to fight for justice in the South and a future free of violence.