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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Thank you for your commitment and support.
Heidi Williamson, Board President
SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW