Join us for the 7th Annual LegislateTHIS!

Join us Thursday, February 20th as we host the 7th Annual LegislateTHIS! – our statewide day of action and lobby event. This year’s theme is Taking Action for Medicaid Expansion: For Our Bodies, Our Futures, Our Communities.

Expect to hear from key leaders about pertinent public policy and social justice issues, rally with other Georgians, and tell our policymakers at the Capitol about reproductive justice. This year, our legislative priority is to ensure that Governor Deal changes the health destiny of 650,000 uninsured Georgians by enacting the full promise of the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid eligibility in Georgia!

Mark Your Calendars!

Thursday, February 20th, 2014
Starting at 9:00AM
Trinity United Methodist Church
265 Washington Street SW

Visit legislatethis.sparkrj.org for more details and to RSVP!

The 7th Annual LegislateTHIS! is co-sponsored by Strong Families and the National Domestic Workers Alliance – Atlanta Chapter

LegislateTHIS 2014 Flyer

Thank You For Standing With SPARK in 2013!

Greetings Community,

As 2013 comes to a close, on behalf of the Board and Staff of SPARK, I want to thank you for recognizing the importance of investing in our work.

Your unwavering support empowers SPARK to ensure the voices of women of color, LGBTQQ youth, and young families are ever present at key decision making tables, fighting for healthcare and our rights to create family in the ways we see fit.

Let me share with you our accomplishments in 2013:

  • SPARK announced new Executive Director Malika Redmond, M.A. in March. Malika Redmond is a Black feminist researcher, writer, and human rights advocate bringing 15 years of leadership experience both nationally and internationally. Full bio available at www.sparkrj.org.

  • The Mama’s Day and Papa’s Day campaigns were e-campaigns highlighting local African-American mothers and fathers whose work and philosophy embrace a reproductive justice framework. SPARK wrote a total of 6 interviews and two blogs shared nationally through both social media, receiving over 3000 Facebook hits, and posts on 4 different blog sites.

  • SPARK launched a monthly Twitter conversation series on sexual health, reproductive justice, and popular culture. Thus far, we have partnered with over 15 organizations and 30 independent twitter followers logging in to take part in our online conversation. This initiative has bolstered SPARK’s twitter following by 39%, growing our following from 668 to 934 followers in just 6 months.

  • This summer SPARK partnered with StoryCorps and Atlanta, GA, community radio station WRFG 89.3FM for our 3rd annual FYRE Media Justice Camp. We provided scholarships to 7 LGBTQQ youth of color student leaders from the south including Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia for 4 days and 3 nights to learn about reproductive justice and radio broadcasting in order to create their own online multi-segment podcast series on current reproductive and racial justice issues. Youth had dinner and conversations with nationally recognized feminists of color scholars and activists Dázon Dixon Diallo, MPH, CEO of SisterLove, Inc., and Crunk Feminist Collective bloggers Susana Morris, PhD and Eesha Pandit, M.A. on how to effectively use multimedia to share their work. Click here to check out the first segment of the series!

  • Executive Director Malika Redmond along with the National Domestic Workers Alliance–Atlanta Chapter held a press conference to launch a grassroots campaign for Medicaid expansion (outlined in the historic Affordable Care Act) in Georgia at the State Capitol this fall. Along with the press conference, 50 people gathered at the Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger for our 1st town hall meeting and 2 talks were held for students at Georgia State University on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion.

  • In the fall, the Arcus Foundation announced Executive Director Malika Redmond among 10 emerging leaders to participate in their 1st executive leadership training program furnished with one-on-one coaching with a top level executive, retreat, management tools, and one year grant.

  • SPARK ushered in the holiday season with our end-of-the year fundraiser and first ever the “Winter Flame” bringing together supporters, from across the country to Atlanta, GA, to celebrate reproductive justice in the south. The event garnered support from Atlanta city Councilman Kwanza Hall, the Old Fourth Ward Restaurants and Neighborhood Associations, Janke Glass Studio, and countless others. It was highlighted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Creative Loafing’s “Top 5″ events in Atlanta. Check out the night’s highlights!

Remember, there is still time to give your 2013 gift by hitting the “Donate” button. You can deepen your impact by joining SPARK as a monthly sustainer giving automatic, recurring donations for as little as $10 a month!

SPARK is looking toward the future as we continue to develop youth leadership, move into new office space, gear up to engage in important reproductive justice fight, and launch a voter empowerment campaign in 2014.

Thanks again for welcoming me to SPARK and always standing with us.

Happy Holidays,

Malika A. Redmond, M.A.
Executive Director

Click here to check out the night’s highlights at the “Winter Flame”!

Click here to check out the night’s highlights at the “Winter Flame”!

Apply to be a Spring 2014 Intern at SPARK!

SPARK is seeking 2 Spring interns who have a strong interest in reproductive justice in the South! Interns will serve as Communications & Programs Assistant and Executive Director & Development Assistant. This is an unpaid internship. SPARK is willing to work with a university to provide credit hours to successful applicants. However, it is your responsibility to ensure we have proper documentation and supervision from your university.

This internship is a great opportunity for those seeking to expand their knowledge of reproductive health, rights, and justice, women and gender studies, racial justice, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues. Interns will have the opportunity to obtain invaluable work experience in a professional nonprofit setting while gaining inside knowledge on what it takes to advocate for reproductive justice. Successful interns will gain an intersectional analysis of what reproductive justice means, a firmer grasp of current movement issues, and increased skills in the areas of communications, grassroots organizing, leadership and membership development, fundraising and grants management. We welcome creativity, new ideas, and we make a conscious effort to create a work space that fosters personal growth.

Read more! – – >

The 3 Questions That Every American Should Ask About Obamacare

Originally posted at PolicyMic. Written by Dani McClain with comments from SPARK Executive Director Malika Redmond.

The 3 Questions That Every American Should Ask About Obamacare Image Credit: AP

The 3 Questions That Every American Should Ask About Obamacare Image Credit: AP

This week opens the six-month window for uninsured people to figure out how and whether they’ll get coverage under the new system created by the Affordable Care Act. For some, it will be a time of punching their age and income into an online calculator and coming to know the words “bronze,” “gold,” “silver” and “platinum” as plan options rather than precious metals. For others, this first open enrollment period will bring news that they’re newly eligible for Medicaid benefits. And for others, not much will change because their state’s political leaders have rejected a piece of the ACA that promises to improve health outcomes for poor and low-income people.

Eventually, when all the conjecture is replaced by observable evidence, we’ll be able to draw conclusions about just how well health care reform is working and for whom. In the meantime, here are three questions to keep in mind.

Read more The 3 Questions That Every American Should Ask About Obamacare

“Healthcare for All” Campaign Launches, Domestic Workers Urge State to Expand Healthcare Coverage for 650,000 Georgians

Greetings Community!

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW is honored to stand with the National Domestic Workers Alliance – Atlanta Chapter as members of the Cover Georgia coalition to demand Healthcare For All Georgians! Join us at the State Capitol and follow us on twitter @SPARKRJNOW this Thursday, September 5th at 5:00 PM as we call on Governor Deal to ensure the full promise of the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid in Georgia!

Expanding Medicaid will allow an estimated 650,000 people living in Georgia to have healthcare! SPARK recognizes that women, queer young adults, and young parents of color are among those disproportionately impacted by the lack of culturally competent high quality affordable healthcare that supports empowered family planning, sexual health, and reproductive health decisions.

All Georgians deserve to have insurance coverage for the medical care that they need!

My best to you,

Malika A. Redmond, MA
Executive Director

NDWA Rally Sponsor Orgs

Read the full Media Advisory

If you don’t know, now you know! Black Men Standing for Reproductive Freedom

By Cortez Wright, Communications Associate at SPARK

Originally posted on the Strong Families Blog

Cortez WrightRight-wing push back on the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid and contraceptive coverage, anti-choice billboards like emerging anti-choice leader Ryan Bomberger’s “Too Many Aborted” that target Black women, and a growing number of pregnancy crisis centers in Black communities are just the latest versions of a long history of surveillance and control over Black women’s reproductive health and rights. As Communications Associate at SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, I track this history of discrimination and fight to end it.

I am far from alone in this fight. Across the U.S., Black reproductive justice advocates stand against racist and misogyny-fueled attacks on women’s bodily integrity. By educating and organizing our constituencies towards pro-woman cultural change and progressive social policy, we stand against leaders opposed to reproductive freedom, who would much rather make policy decisions based on their own religious beliefs and imaginations, rather than the lived experiences of women and, frankly, facts. This anti-choice movement, though mostly White men, is also diverse in its efforts to undermine reproductive rights. Black men with media visibility who embrace anti-choice, anti-women positions are among their ranks, including Ryan Bomberger, the founder and Chief Creative officer of Radiance Foundation, Bishop Harry Jackson, a prominent evangelical preacher, and E. W. Jackson, Sr., the current Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

Read more If you don’t know, now you know! Black Men Standing for Reproductive Freedom

Papa-Activist Jerome Scott Shares How Fatherhood Inspired Him to Become a Revolutionary

Jerome ScottJerome Scott, Jerome Scott, Founding Member of Project South, Co-Founder of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Veteran, and Father

SPARK concludes our Papa’s Day series with a one-on-one talk with Papa-Activist Jerome Scott. Enlightened by his experience as a soldier in Vietnam, Jerome returned home and embarked on fifty years of social justice work.

Starting in the late 1960s, as an automotive plant worker in Detroit, MI, Jerome became co-founder of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Later, he moved to Atlanta, GA, where he maintains his ties to social justice efforts. Jerome is known worldwide as a founding member and former director of one of the principal southern based popular education organizations, Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty & Genocide. During Jerome’s tenure, Project South was the anchor organization for the 2007 US Social Forum.

Today, Jerome serves on the National Planning Committee of the US Social Forum and is active in Grassroots Global Justice, the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, and an advisor and mentor to many other social justice organizations. He is author/co-author of numerous chapters and articles on race, class, movement building, and the revolutionary process, and is a contributing editor to popular education toolkits and books including The United States Social Forum: Perspectives of a Movement, The Roots of Terror, and Today’s Globalization.

Executive Director, Malika Redmond, had an inspirational conversation with Jerome Scott, as he shared how fatherhood cemented his drive to make the world a just place.

MR: How does fatherhood shape your work?
JS:  
I returned from Vietnam in 1967 and began organizing. My longevity is tied to raising my four children.  Back in the day, we asked — what would our children take away from the movement? We were fighting for our children’s future. Having a family meant that you had to manage your time. You didn’t just impregnate a woman. You needed to be an active father. The gratification for the justice work I do comes from being a father. I am proud to be an activist and active father, to nurture children and a revolution. It is a total package, and an inspiration.

Living and working in Detroit, it was important to get Black leadership in the unions–and we did. I lived through the modern day Civil Rights movement and the end of Jim Crow, and it was us, the poor and working class at the forefront of the movement. We accomplished a lot together. Still, over the years, I’ve seen how reactionary forces chipped away at our progressive gains. We started losing our advances because we grew complacent and still. The great lesson I learned from my work in the 70s is that the movement ebbs and flows. We will continually experience both great gains and great losses as we inch closer to justice. That can sound demoralizing, but what sustains me during the lulls is knowing that the movement will rise again, grow even stronger, and make greater advances than in the previous period.

MR: How do you work in solidarity with Black women and reproductive justice?
JS:
Reproductive justice needs more visible solidarity from fathers. We have to get more people in our country to understand that an attack on one is an attack on all! Today, many southern states do not want to expand Medicaid as required by the Affordable Care Act. This is a disproportionate attack against poor Black women, yet it is an attack on all people — and we have to think and act that way across issue areas in social justice movement. We have to prioritize poor women and women of color’s rights even if we do not think their issues affect us directly.

MR: What words of wisdom would you share with other fathers?
JS:
The most important lesson a father can teach their children is everyday people make history.

***

SPARK thanks the indelible Papa-Activist Jerome Scott for inspirational advice on fatherhood, longevity in social justice movements, and on solidarity with reproductive justice.

To learn more about the US Social Forum, visit www.ussocialforum.net.  To connect with Project South, go to www.projectsouth.org.  To support reproductive justice work in the Southeast, join SPARK!

Papa-Activist BT Calls on Us to End Abortion Stigma and Transphobia

BTBT is the Founder of Trans(forming), a chapter organization of Female to Male Inc. (FTMI).  An activist and advocate for over 25 years, BT works on social justice issues like decriminalization and healthcare access with several communities: Black, trans, working class, homeless, and immigrant people. He fights for trans-inclusive health insurance with Trans Health Advocates Atlanta, and, as a member of the Solutions not Punishment Coalition (SNaP CO), he designs sex positive and safe approaches to sex work for trans women. He is a historian and keeper of the flame for Transsexual People and is currently editing his first book, Stealth World: Hiding in Plain Sight. Notwithstanding all of his rich accomplishments, most important, BT is a step-father, uncle, mentor and role model to many.

For our Strong Families Papa’s Day campaign, SPARK asked this father and social justice activist, “how do you work in solidarity with Black women in the fight for reproductive justice?”

“It’s really amazing to me how these really antiquated laws in Georgia and around the South – heck, country – still exist, especially when it comes to things that directly affect poor and working class communities.

No one knows better the power and allure of this system of patriarchy than a trans man. There is a war happening against women all over the world. The desire to control women’s bodies is as old as time.  Fighting against those systems of oppression that continue to devalue the majority population is something I have to work to be intentional about. Being involved in women’s struggles with close friends educates me and helps me work on being a better man.

Where I live in the West End community of Atlanta, GA, the Radiance Foundation had the nerve to post an awful, shaming and blaming billboard right in the neighborhood, saying Black women were the cause of Black genocide. I had to pass by it every day on my way home. It made me so angry that I, SPARK, and many others successfully organized and got it removed.

I first began advocating for reproductive justice many moons ago, when I was a teenager. I walked my friend into a clinic for her abortion. We walked through a barrage of shouting people holding up disparaging signs. I sat and held my very afraid teenage friend as she cried and wailed from the stress of that entire situation. From that day on, I joined the cause for a woman’s choice.

In my daily work with my organization, Trans(forming), I fight for the rights of all folks to identify and claim their bodies, their names, their choices as a human right. We collaborate with many progressive organizations. SPARK, for example, co-sponsored and helped us produce the only comprehensive name change booklet for the state of Georgia, and, along with ACLU of Georgia and Attorney Chara Jackson, we hold quarterly Name Change Clinics and hope to soon add Document Clinics.

In our continued connection and fight for ALL women’s rights – we speak up and out about transphobia in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer communities. We rallied against the Michigan Womyn’s Festival for not allowing Trans women to attend, and local Women’s health clinics who continue to refuse to treat trans women. With the SNaP CO, we fought against an awful ordinance seeking to banish sex workers from the City of Atlanta, which we saw as part of the continued profiling of our trans sisters.

I see ALL women issues – as basic Human Rights! Period!

Thank you, SPARK, for this honor, and seeing that there are many kinds of men in the community.  And lastly, Happy Father’s Day to my own walking example of a ‘good man’, my dad.”

SPARK thanks BT for his participation with our Papa’s Day campaign! BT reminds us that by fighting for women’s rights, we are fighting to uplift all communities. To learn more about the Solutions Not Punishment Coalition and get involved, check out their Facebook group!

To support reproductive justice efforts in the South, make a donation to SPARK.

Papa-Activist Terence Courtney Calls on Immigrant and Racial Justice Movements to Prioritize Black Women and Reproductive Justice

Terence Courtney

Terence Courtney, Southeastern Organizer for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)

Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Terence Courtney began his organizing work in the 1990’s as a founding member of Atlanta Jobs with Justice, a local coalition of labor unions, student groups, community members, and faith organizations. During his tenure, Terence effectively bridged Civil Rights to Immigrant Rights by speaking at forums, organizing the Immigrant Worker Freedom Rides, and supporting the right for undocumented communities to gain licenses and legalization in the State of Georgia. Today, he works for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration as the Southeastern Organizer. BAJI’s mission is to organize African descended people born in the US and abroad to fight for Racial Equity, Economic Justice, and Immigrant Rights.

For our Strong Families Papa’s Day campaign, SPARK asked the father and social justice activist, “how do you work in solidarity with Black women in the fight for reproductive justice?”

“The work that I do as an organizer with the Black Alliance for Just immigration (BAJI) and all the work I’ve done as an organizer for nearly 2 decades has been about the task of dismantling oppression. Through study and practice, I’ve learned that the many forms of oppression that exist are interrelated in an intersecting matrix that impacts the life chances of Black women and Women of Color the most. Black women and Women of Color have to deal with the triple burden of economic exploitation by capitalism, gender inequality by patriarchy, and racial discrimination by white supremacy.

With this understanding, I believe that people of good will who want to create a better world have to pay attention to the challenges that Black women and Women of Color face. When we are able to liberate Black women from this triplet of oppression, we then can see a bright horizon of freedom for the rest of society. This is why I am a supporter of healthcare access, reproductive choice, and the elimination of shackling incarcerated [pregnant] women in general, and Black women specifically. Moreover, when I organize for human rights as a way to help destroy oppression, I believe it’s necessary to prioritize base building, alliance building, consciousness-raising, and leadership development for Black women.

I am constantly asking myself and those I work with questions like: How can we involve working class Black women more? What are the particular ways in which Black women are affected by a given issue? How can we support people and groups with an orientation that focuses on working class Black women and Women of Color? Are there Black women in our community already leading this fight? These are but a few of the questions we grapple with as I, and my colleagues, press for social transformation. And this helps keep us grounded in real conditions, thus making our work more strategically sound and impactful.

This is why I am glad to partner with and support the efforts of SPARK. They are doing some of the most necessary work to fight for justice. I’m honored to do my part to help move their mission forward. I offer words of encouragement, and I wish success in engaging the timely issues that Black women face.”

SPARK thanks Terence Courtney for his participation with our Papa’s Day campaign! Terence reminds us that challenging and correcting the impact of patriarchy on Women of Color are key to bridging reproductive justice and racial justice movements. Not only should reproductive justice be important to Black men, but solidarity with Black women is integral to bodily autonomy for every Black person. To learn more about Terence’s work at BAJI, visit BlackAlliance.org. To support racial justice and reproductive justice efforts in the South, make a donation to SPARK.

This Papa’s Day, We Celebrate the Rich Legacy of Black Fathers Who Support Women’s Rights!

Greetings Community,

Ingemar and Kumani

SPARK honors devoted father, astute community organizer, and proud SPARK Board Member Ingemar Smith for Papa’s Day!

Today, we watched President Obama remark on the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act and saluting women like the late Dr. Dorothy Height for raising awareness of fair wages for women. Official statements of solidarity for women’s rights are a continuous theme of the Obama presidency beginning with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This week, SPARK will celebrate the rich legacy of Black fathers who support women’s rights — especially reproductive justice — through our Papa’s Day e-campaign in partnership with Strong Families.Look forward to reading statements of solidarity from Black men supporting Black women’s reproductive freedom, a timely article honoring the path blazed by Black feminist forefathers, and, what looks to be a lively discussion, a twitter chat on representations of Black fatherhood in the media.Like Mama’s Day, SPARK and Strong Families will enrich the social media world with words of wisdom from our communities, share important policy initiatives that disproportionately impact our families, and release beautiful e-cards with images of our diverse families that you can send to your Papa in time for Father’s Day!

Join us on twitter @sparkrjnow, like us on Facebook, and go to our website www.sparkrj.org to participate in our Papa’s Day campaign activities and learn more about Strong Families and SPARK!

My best to you,

Malika A. Redmond, M.A.
Executive Director