Healthy Sex, Healthy Futures!

HSHF 2015 FlyerJoin Spark Reproductive Justice Now, in partnership with SisterLove, Inc and Georgia Equality as we expand the conversation on HIV prevention into a larger conversation around sexual health and reproductive justice to empower young folks to have honest conversations around their sexual health and wellness and build their AIDS Free Generation! This event is a part of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. Free HIV testing will be available.

When: April 8, 2015 – 5:30 to 8:00PM

Where: Phillip Rush Center – Annex, 1530 DeKalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

RSVP: Registration Form & Facebook

This event is open to young folks 16-25 and will center LGBTQQ young folks of color.

#WERUNTHIS Takeover Day at the GA Capitol!

Crossover-Day-2015-IGJoin SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW in partnership with SisterSong, SisterLove, and the Feminist Women’s Health Center on Crossover Day as we host #WERUNTHIS Community Takeover Day at the GA Capitol!

March 13th – Crossover Day – is the last chance a bill has to move from one legislative chamber to the other to have a chance at becoming law. Starting at 10:00AM EST we will gather in the GA Capitol South Rotunda for a full day of popular education teach-ins and grassroots lobbying to support proactive reproductive justice legislation that reflects our communities in Georgia for the 2015 Legislative Session!

For more information, please contact Taliba Obuya at taliba@sparkrj.org.


Reflections on the 8th Annual Legislate THIS!

On February 19, 2015, SPARK Reproductive Justice Now gathered for our 8th Annual Legislate THIS! – A day of action and lobbying at the Georgia Capitol. Under the theme “From the Grassroots, to the Gold Dome,” community members, organizational leaders, activists, and allies joined together to raise our collective voices in solidarity and brought our fight for reproductive justice and proactive policy that centers the needs of our communities – Black Women, Queer & Trans Youth of Color, and Young Mothers – to the Capitol. Watch as SPARK leaders and lobby participants reflect on their experiences and speak on the importance and power of this event!

Join the SPARK Organizing Intensive!

The SPARK Organizing Intensive (SOI) will be a fierce group of young folks (18-25) interested in being trained on or deepening their skills and understanding around organizing and movement building in Georgia and the South.

The SOI is geared towards supporting and empowering women of color (while centering the experiences of Black Women), young parents, and LGBTQ youth of color on issues that impact their lives and will provide an opportunity for new and experienced organizers and activists to dig deep on pressing issues that affect our communities across identities, gain concrete organizing skills, and directly organize and support community events and projects throughout 2015.

Time Commitment

The 6-week program will begin in late March 2015. SOI trainings will occur once a week on Saturdays from March 28th to May 2nd from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM and will include political education and skill development.

What’s expected of me as an SOI Participant?

SOI members are expected to:

  • Bring an open, willing spirit and positive attitude that lends to community building and friendship.
  • Be curious, stretch, and have fun!
  • Be willing to fight for the dignity and safety for all families!

You can apply online here. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 13th, 2015. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance no later than March 20, 2015. For more information, please contact Quita Tinsley at quita@sparkrj.org.

Join us in creating a Georgia that respects our bodies and our futures!

Women of color, LGBTQ, trans* and gender non-conforming people color, young parents, low-income people, people with disabilities, people living in the South and in rural communities, and those living outside of the metro Atlanta area are strongly encouraged to apply.

No phone calls, please.

Legislate THIS tomorrow, Celebrate SPARK in Atlanta!

LT2015The 8th Annual LegislateTHIS! kicks off tomorrow at Trinity United Methodist Church. Doors open and breakfast is served at 8:30AM EST!

The day will feature a grassroots lobby training followed by a visit to the Capitol. This year’s keynote will be delivered by Valencia Robinson, an organizer, and advocate for HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ and Reproductive Justice issues and founder Mississippi in Action, Inc., which promotes holistic sexual and reproductive health.

For full event details and to RSVP, visit legislatethis.sparkrj.org


SPARK Atlanta Reception!

After LegislateTHIS!, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW invites you to a fundraising reception hosted by our Board of Directors and friends. We will be celebrating 8 years of advocating against the violence, discrimination and disenfranchisement that disproportionately impacts Black women and LGBTQQ people of color in the Deep South. Our work now is more important than ever. We need your help to continue working at the intersection of racial justice and LGBTQQ liberation. We are prepared to make significant progress in 2015. Every dollar contributed by February 19th will ensure a strong start and maximum impact this year.

When
Thursday, February 19th
6:00PM to 8:00PM

Where
Kat’s Cafe
970 Piedmont Ave Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 347-2263

Follow the link to RSVP online!

Join SPARK for an Atlanta Reception with Board and Friends!

Atlanta-Reception-Collage

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW invites you to a reception hosted by our Board of Directors and friends. We will be celebrating 8 years of advocating for Black women and young LGBTQQ people of color, and raising funds to continue organizing communities in Georgia. Your support will allow us to amplify Black and LGBTQQ voices in the fight for access to affordable, quality healthcare for all. So join us as we continue to build a movement for reproductive justice in the South!

When
Thursday, February 19th
6:00PM to 8:00PM

Where
Kat’s Cafe
970 Piedmont Ave Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 347-2263

You can RSVP online here!

Closing The Gap

On this National Youth Enrollment Day, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW remains committed to uplifting the voices and experiences of LGBTQ youth of color. 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 voices to address the coverage gap.

Georgia has the fifth largest population of uninsured people in this country. And according to Young Invincibles, “up to 44 percent of the approximately 481,000 Georgians who fall in the coverage gap are young adults aged 18 to 34.3 The proportion of young adults in Georgia’s coverage gap is greater than the proportion in other non-expansion states, such as Texas (38 percent), Virginia (38 percent), and Florida (36 percent).”

It is important that the voices of queer and trans youth of color are heard in this fight for healthcare access.  Please listen, share the stories of these amazing young leaders, and join us on February 19th, 2015 for our annual statewide day of action and lobby event, Legislate This! We will hear from key leaders about pertinent public policy and social justice issues, rally with other Georgians, and educate our policymakers at the Capitol about reproductive justice.

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW Affirms the Agency of Black Lives on the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW celebrates the spirit of this victory, even in the face of federal and state-based attacks to restrict women’s access to abortion care.

As an organization that works to improve access to reproductive healthcare for Black women and queer and trans youth of color, Roe has helped to affirm the bodily autonomy of women in our communities. Black women are three times more likely than white women to have an unintended pregnancy, four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, and are more likely to raise their children in poverty. Access to abortion remains vital to the lives of Black women and families to protect our health and well-being.

“SPARK’s commitment to ensuring that Black women have access to the resources they need to lead self-determined lives extends to all forms of healthcare – including abortion,” says SPARK board member Tonya Williams. “We will continue to fight so that Black women can make liberatory decisions about our bodies, our health, and our lives.”

On this day, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding the protections assured by the Roe v. Wade decision.  We stand with those who are fighting back attempts to corrode those protections. And we celebrate the victories we have won, and those to come.

One Contribution, TWICE the Impact. Give to SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW Today!

Give Today!

Dear Friends,

As SPARK looks to 2015, we need your support to continue to build and sustain a reproductive justice (RJ) movement in the Deep South. SPARK’s work is critical in developing Southern based RJ leaders from marginalized communities to advocate for policies and practices that empower young families throughout Georgia to lead on key reproductive rights and health issues and foster sustainable change. Importantly, SPARK amplifies the voices of queer and trans youth of color and young women of color that are often overlooked in our struggles for justice.

And with the support of a generous donor, every dollar contributed to SPARK by Midnight on December 31st will be matched dollar for dollar up to $25,000!

Your financial contribution to SPARK will provide the necessary support we need as we continue to implement our longstanding and successful programming:

  • Speak Justice Take Action Program educates our constituency on the legislative process and offer policy analysis using a queer political frame. From advocating for proactive anti-shackling legislation to closing the coverage gap, our “Legislate THIS!” Day of Action brings our community members to the Georgia State Capitol to lobby our elected officials and empower youth leaders to share their stories.

 

  • Fierce Youth Reclaiming & Empowering Program and FYRE Media Justice Camp provides 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.

 

  • SPARK Organizing Intensive trains queer and trans youth of color and young women of color on RJ issue advocacy, grassroots organizing, community mobilization, and strategic communications to foster the potential and leadership within our movements.

This important work would not be possible without your continued and generous support. SPARK is one of the few organizations in the Deep South that actively organizes local communities and pushes for policies that improve the lives of black women and LGBTQ youth of color. Your single contribution will have TWICE the impact in 2015. Please give and join with us in affirming: Our lives matter. Our families matter. Our communities matter.

Yours in the struggle,

Board of Directors
SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW

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

NGWRJA Logo

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.