Ignite NC Stands With Fast Food Workers

December 4 – Workers across the country took to the streets going on strike. They are demanding $15hr and union rights for low-wage workers, in particular fast food workers. The protests led by the Fight for $15 movement was the largest of its kind. Over 180 cities took part in the strike. Community support played a vital role in standing in solidarity for these actions. Ignite NC and its fellows helped mobilize students for the strike. In North Carolina, protests took place in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, and Greenville.

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Blocking the youth vote in the South

This article was published on Facing South.

Charlotte Canvass
Inter-generational neighborhood canvass in Charlotte

First they were supposed to vote early — in a nightclub. Then students, employees, and faculty at North Carolina’s Appalachian State University were supposed to vote early a mile from the farthest edge of campus, in a county building that had little parking. Then, after students filed a lawsuit, a state judge intervened, saying that the county board of election’s decision to end early voting in the on-campus student union — after eight years of allowing it — could have no purpose but to disenfranchise students and was unconstitutional. That decision, however, was not the final word. It was put on hold by an appeals court, and then the North Carolina Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

By that time, the Watauga County Board of Elections haddecided to restore on-campus early voting — a practice it had eliminated by a partisan vote pushed by the board’s Republican majority. Appalachian State is the largest employer in Watauga County, and its students make up roughly 40 percent of the county’s population, but their preference for Democratic candidates does not jibe with the rest of the county’s Republican tilt. In 2012, about 35 percent of the county’s early votes were cast at the Appalachian State student union.

But after all the chaos, it turns out that Appalachian State students are the lucky ones: They are some of the only students in North Carolina who will be able to vote early on campus this year. Early voting sites have been eliminated on college campuses across North Carolina and the South, part of a broader effort by local elections officials and state lawmakers to erect new barriers to voting. The new policies, which run the gamut from shortened early voting periods to strict voter ID requirements, disproportionately affect young voters — and especially youth of color.

“If you look at what young voters did in this state [North Carolina] in 2008 and 2012, it’s impossible to not conclude they mattered a lot,” said Allison Riggs of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, one of the law groups representing plaintiffs in a challenge to a restrictive election law the North Carolina legislature passed last year. “When young voters turn out a lot it can be dangerous to entrenched power, so they’re seen as threatening.”

After Republican takeovers in statehouses across the country and the South in 2010, many states enacted new restrictions on voters. And the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder last year striking a key provision of the Voting Rights Act freed many states with histories of discriminatory voting practices to pass and enforce new laws without approval by the federal government. Four Southern states — Texas, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama — used the new lack of federal oversight to enact restrictive voting laws that disproportionately affect young and minority voters. A group of young voters are challenging North Carolina’s law on the basis that it abridges their right to vote in violation of the Constitutional guarantee that all 18 year-olds can vote — the first time voters have challenged a voting law on age discrimination grounds.

Virginia is implementing its voter ID law for the first time this fall — as are Alabama,Mississippi, and Texas. Voter ID requirements can also disproportionately affect young voters since the laws in some states like Texas do not allow the use of student IDs, even if issued by public universities. (North Carolina will begin enforcing a voter ID requirement that excludes student IDs in 2016.) As a consequence of such laws, and due to a higher likelihood of not having other eligible ID, young voters are more likely than the general population to report not showing up to vote.

And in Florida, notorious for long lines and other problems in past elections, voting rights advocates say state law may hurt young voters this year as well. In 2011, the state government cut early voting by six days, contributing to very long lines in the 2012 election. Astudy by the Advancement Project found that long lines affected young voters and voters of color more than older and white voters across Florida.

Ciara Taylor, political director at the Dream Defenders, a group advocating for voter activism against police brutality and racism, reports that polling places have been moved off college campuses across Florida. In Tallahassee, for example, there are no early voting places on either Florida State’s or Florida A&M’s campuses, which have a combined enrollment of over 50,000 students. And while Florida allows voters to use student IDs to vote, they must also present an ID that has their signature, such as a credit card.

“The voter ID law goes hand in hand with the cut back of polling locations at college campuses and shorter hours at polling places,” Taylor said.

Targeting young voters in North Carolina

In North Carolina, county boards of elections have closed on-campus early voting sites across the state, making it harder for students to vote. Students at historically black Elizabeth City State University and Winston-Salem State University will not have on-campus early voting polling locations. North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have lost their on-campus sites for early voting and the general election as well.

Local elections officials have said some on-campus voting locations have been axed because they cannot provide curbside voting for disabled voters — even though that has never stopped them from being used in the past. Other election boards — including those in the counties where Appalachian State, Elizabeth City State, and Winston-Salem State are located — provided no reasons for shuttering voting sites. Because of the election of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in 2012, county boards of elections in the state now have GOP majorities for the first time in decades.

Barriers to youth voting have also taken other forms in North Carolina. For example, the Guilford County Board of Elections rejected over 1,400 voter registration forms for students at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, another historically black school, reports Irving Allen, the fellowship director for Ignite NC, a non-partisan group that trains poll monitors and registers young voters. The students used the university’s address rather than their dorm address and room numbers and consequently had their forms rejected — the first time this has happened, he said.

“I understand the logic behind it, but before students were able to register by just putting the address of the school,” Allen said. “It creates this disarray and confusion.” Because the board of election did not follow up with the new registrants directly due to lack of funding, Allen said, that job fell to student activists.

Last year the Pasquotank County Board of Elections blocked an Elizabeth City State senior, Montravias King, from running for the local city council because he was registered to vote at his campus address. Pasquotank County’s elections board has repeatedly challenged students’ voting rights at the historically black school even though college students’ right to register to vote was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1979 case. King, who is black, was eventually elected to the local city council after taking his case to the State Board of Elections with the help of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed one of the nation’s most restrictive election laws last year, shortening early voting and ending same-day registration, out of precinct voting, and pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-old students. In 2016, the law’s voter ID provision will come into effect. Student IDs, even if issued by a public school, will not be accepted as voter IDs. While supporters of the law claim that it will prevent election fraud, opponents see an attempt to disenfranchise people of color and young voters.

“It seems like a unified push to make it more difficult for students to vote,” said Claudia Shoemaker, president of the Appalachian State College Democrats.

Young voters of color especially affected

Studies have found that voter ID laws disproportionately affect youth and people of color — college students or not. For example, a review by the federal Government Accountability Office found that strict voter ID laws like North Carolina’s reduced youth voting in Kansas and Tennessee in the 2012 election. In Kansas that year, 18 year-olds were seven percentage points less likely than 44 to 53 year olds to turn out to vote.

Voter ID laws are also enforced in ways that disproportionately target young voters, and especially voters of color. Young voters of color are asked for photo ID as much as 50 percent more often than young white voters — even when an ID is not required to vote. The same study found that when voter ID is required, young African-American and Hispanic voters were asked for ID more often than young white voters.

“Young people of color tend to be profiled more and asked for ID more than their white counterparts,” said Katherine Culliton-González, director of voter protection for the national civil rights group the Advancement Project.

These efforts to curb young and minority voters come as youth — and especially minority youth — are becoming increasingly larger parts of the American electorate. Voters between 18 and 29 years old were critical to President Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012. In North Carolina in 2008, the only age group of which a majority voted for Obama was voters aged 18 to 29, according to CNN. Obama won the state by just 14,177 votes.

Six years later, many of these young voters will now have to surmount new barriers just to be able to cast their ballots.

“For a country that advocates the importance of civic engagement, to be taking away the rights of these citizens is just un-American,” said Taylor of the Dream Defenders. “I think that people are realizing that voting is a lot more important than they realized before.”

Evan Walker-Wells

Youth on the move

Fellows with Ignite NC have been on the ground organizing in their local campus and community. By October 25 we will have hosted 15 election protection trainings, participated in 6 walkouts or marches to the polls, and passed out thousands of voter education materials. Youth and students are building a movement for justice. This election is more than just another moment in the political system but rather a statement that young people will have their voice be heard.

Check out some of the pictures from the Ignite NC work so far.

Greensboro NC - passing out voter guides before homecoming
Greensboro NC – passing out voter guides before homecoming
Students at ECSU host a voting rally on campus
Students at ECSU host a voting rally on campus
Raleigh - As Voter Registration deadline approaches youth register hundreds of students.
Raleigh – As Voter Registration deadline approaches youth register hundreds of students.
Charlotte - Youth prepare for the Vote Defender Training
Charlotte – Youth prepare for the Vote Defender Training

Become a Vote Defender

This fall, North Carolina holds the first big election with the controversial voting law changes adopted last year. We need your help to provide information and help stop voter suppression. Will you join us in this effort?

Become a Vote Defender! Ignite NC, Democracy NC, and our local partner groups are co-hosting trainings across the state.for volunteers who want to be poll monitors at selected precincts on Election Day. Teams of volunteers outside the polling place will wear t-shirts, answer basic questions, and document voters’ experiences through an Exit Survey. In addition, volunteers will direct voters who experience a problem or have a complaint to a Hotline staffed by election experts.

You don’t need to be an expert to be a Vote Defender Volunteer. But you do need to attend a training! You’ll learn about how to conduct the exit survey and record complaints, receive your t-shirt and other materials, and be teamed up with another volunteer.

Join us in the on-the-ground fight against voter suppression!

sign up today!

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More than just a case: Why NC youth are traveling to Ohio to walk 11 miles #BlackLivesMatter

“I saw my son get murdered by the police. It was worse than Ferguson.”

That is what John Crawford’s father said after he was allowed to see six minutes of footage from the Beavercreek Walmart in Ohio where police gunned down his son on August 5. John Crawford was shopping in the Walmart and was holding a toy airsoft rifle when another shopper called the police and described a “Black male about 6 feet tall” waving a gun. The tape has not been released to the public, and a grand jury is meeting September 22-24 to decide whether the officer will be arrested.

In the past month the murders of Mike Brown and John Crawford have received national attention. Not only did unarmed black men get shot dead in public places by state funded officials, but the institutions responsible have colluded to cover up, launching media campaigns to shift public perception by demonizing the victims.  These cases are not simply murders by individual officers but symptomatic of structural racism and the funding of state sponsored violence against black and brown youth.

The criminalization of black and brown people is not isolated to Ohio or Ferguson. In North Carolina high school student, Jesus Huerta, was handcuffed in the backseat of a police car in Durham, NC when he was fatally shot in the head. Jonathan Ferrell was murdered by the police, shot 10 times by an officer after seeking help when his car crashed in Charlotte. In NC, a black driver is 223% more likely to be searched than a white driver during a stop for a seat belt violation, and a Latino driver is 106% more likely to be searched. The results of these racist stops are that people are pushed out of their jobs and schools and into the criminal justice system.

The case of John Crawford is more than just a case in Ohio, it is an example of the state sponsored violence being carried out against communities in the United States. When law enforcement and institutions like Walmart refuse to make information public, thwarting the pursuit of justice by a community, it sets a precedent across the country. We have seen these cover-ups and abuse of power in NC and that is why we are mobilizing to join the Ohio Student Association for Freedom City September 22-24.

We will participate in an 11 mile “Freedom Walk” from the Beavercreek Walmart where John Crawford was killed to the courthouse in Xenia where the grand jury will be meeting. The walk will end in a rally and occupation of the courthouse grounds.

We are walking 11 miles not only for justice for John Crawford, but for all lives ended by police and for the dismantling of a system that allows it to continue. We will not accept a future where black and brown people are criminalized for their existence. We are marching in Ohio for justice for John Crawford and our own liberation. This is more than just one case, these are the lives of people and our communities. #BlackLivesMatter #OurLivesMatter

This statement was written by Irving Allen, D’atra Jackson, Bree Newsome and Bryan Perlmutter

Irving Allen is a community organizer at the Beloved Community Center and the fellowship coordinator at Ignite NC. He has worked to build community and youth coalitions both in Greensboro and throughout the state of NC. Irving has played an intricate role in organizing initiatives such as the civilian review board addressing police accountability in Greensboro.

D’atra Jackson is the Organizing Director at NC Student Power Union. Getting her master’s degree from FIU she established a Dream Defender chapter at her school. D’atra has been one of the organizers of fighting back against police brutality in Durham. She recently organized a conference of youth from across NC to take action on issues that affect their lives.

Bree Newsome is an organizer and leader in the Charlotte community. Bree continues to organize around police brutality in Charlotte. She is a co-founder of Stay Up NC, a singer/songwriter and filmmaker.

Bryan Perlmutter is the Director of Ignite NC and staff at the Youth Organizing Institute. He was among the first 17 people arrested at the first Moral Monday in NC. Bryan has helped fight back against the School-To-Prison-Pipeline in Wake County changing school discipline policy and police power in schools.

Youth and Student Conference

conference picOn September 12-14 Ignite NC partnered with the NC Student Power Union to host a Stand Up Fight Back Conference at NC State University. The conference brought together youth from 17 different NC institutions to talk about issues facing youth in their local communities and schools. Youth bonded over food and dancing while they learned each others stories, developed new skills, and planned campaigns for the fall.

Fall Fellowship Underway

Fall 2014 FellowsIgnite NC Fall fellows are officially on the ground. On August 29 and 30, 20 new youth fellows from Boone, Charlotte, Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, and Elizabeth City came together for training. We know the work ahead of us is just beginning. Fellows will be working on the NC Vote Defender Project and community organizing.

Ignite NC Launches Fall Fellowships!

Ignite NC Fall Fellowships

APPLICATION DEADLINE IS WEDNESDAY, August 13 at 12:00PM

Decisions will be made by August 18.

Ignite NC is accepting applications for three types of fellowships this fall: Community Organizing (8 positions), NC Vote Defenders (9 positions), and Media & Communication (1 position).

Youth ages 18-30 are eligible to apply.  Those selected for the program will receive a 3 day training and a $500 stipend upon successful completion. Descriptions of fellowships are below

NC Vote Defenders Fellow:

In 2013 NC passed the worst voter suppression law in the country that makes it more difficult for youth, people of color, and poor people to vote. By monitoring polls and educating the public about the changes. Ignite NC’s Vote Defender project is raising awareness about the new laws, watchdogging election officials and other voters for patterns of misconduct, and building the movement for grassroots people’s power in NC.

The positions can be based anywhere in NC, through there are a limited number of positions.

If you are selected, you must be able to attend a mandatory 2 day organizing training in Durham, NC Saturday, August 30- Monday, September 1 (Labor Day) and a statewide conference September 12-14 in Raleigh NC.  Travel stipends will be made available.

We seek candidates with a demonstrated commitment to social justice.  Women, LGBTQ, and people of color, outside the Triangle or Charlotte area, between the ages of 18-30, are strongly encouraged to apply.  You do not have to be a student to apply.

NC Vote Defender Fellow

Position: Fellow
Dates: August 30 – November 25
Hours: minimum of 80 hours

Location: Fellows will based in or near campus community. A $500 stipend is offered with this fellowship.

Responsibilities:

  • Protect voting rights in NC by educating students on the new voting law
  • Recruit and train volunteers for election day poll monitoring
  • Gather pledge cards to engage youth around relevant issues
  • Attend a mandatory three-day organizing training August 30-September 1
  • Document your work through blog posts, pictures, and administrative tracking

Document and build relationships with local organizations around enfranchisement and support local youth and student base-building efforts participate in a closing evaluation 

FELLOWS MUST HAVE

  • A strong and demonstrated commitment to building the progressive youth and student movement in North Carolina Excellent communication and teamwork skills,
  • Available and willing to work some weekday evenings and weekends
  • Reliable, outgoing, self-motivated and detail-oriented,
  • Must have a driver’s license and preferably a car

To apply fill out the application send a copy of your resume to northcarolinaignite@gmail.com

Community Organizing Fellow:

The purpose of these fellowships is to build the youth and student movement in North Carolina. In order to do this, we must make deep investments in young leaders – through training, ongoing coaching, and access to resources for on the ground organizing.

Ignite NC is seeking organizing fellows to build the movement for grassroots people’s power in NC. From racial profiling to joblessness, young people must organize to change their own conditions and collectively build a better future. These fellowships are designed for youth who are currently working on an issue based campaign.

If you are currently working with a campus or community organization, or have an exciting organizing initiative you want to bring to reality, this fellowship provides organizing training, mentorship, and a stipend to enable you to spend more dedicated time to organize.

The positions can be based anywhere in NC, through there are a limited number of positions.  If you are selected for this fellowship, you must be able to attend a mandatory organizing training on August 30- September 1 (Durham NC) and a statewide conference Sep 12-14 (Raleigh NC) Gas stipends will be made available.

We are seeking candidates with a demonstrated commitment to social justice.  Women, LGBTQ, and people of color strongly encouraged to apply.  Considering applicants between the ages of 18-30.  You do not have to currently be a student to apply.

Community Organizer Fellow

Position: Fellow
Dates: August 30 – November 24
Hours: minimum of 80 hours

Location: Fellows will be hired to be based in and near campuses in North Carolina. A $500 stipend is offered with this fellowship.

Responsibilities:

  • Develop a work plan that brings capacity to an existing campaign in the youth and student movement.
  • Gather pledge cards that engage youth around relevant issues
  • Fellows will spend 25% of their work on civic engagement
  • Attend a mandatory Three-day organizing training August 30-September 1
  • Document your work through blog posts, pictures, and tracking
  • Participate in a fellowship evaluation 

FELLOWS MUST HAVE

  • A strong and proven commitment to progressive values and building the power of youth and students, especially LGBTQ youth, women, low-income youth, and youth of color
  • Excellent communication and teamwork skills,
  • Available and willing to work some weekday evenings and weekends
  • Reliable, outgoing, self-motivated and detail-oriented,
  • Must have a driver’s license and preferably a car

To Apply

To apply fill out the applicaiton send a copy of your resume to northcarolinaignite@gmail.com

 

Communication Fellow:

Communication Fellow’s will support the organizing work of the NC Vote Defender Fellows and organizing fellows! The positions can be based anywhere in NC. Activities will include writing press releases, managing social media, creating graphics/flyers, updating website and developing a media strategy.

If you are selected, you must be able to attend a mandatory 2 day organizing training in Durham, NC Saturday, August 30- Monday, September 1 (Labor Day) and a statewide conference September 12-14 in Raleigh NC.  Travel stipends will be made available.

We seek candidates with a demonstrated commitment to social justice.  Women, LGBTQ, and people of color, outside the Triangle or Charlotte area, between the ages of 18-30, are strongly encouraged to apply.  You do not have to be a student to apply.

 

Specific Requirements Include:

 

 BASIC FUNCTION AND RESPONSIBILITY: Fellows the communications unit in its efforts to develop and implement strategies to advance the brand, value and mission of Ignite NC, and the strategic planning and management of organization-wide outreach and marketing projects and collateral through traditional and new media marketing tools, and collaboration with University and departments Community Organizations on effective cross-marketing opportunities.

 

Communication Fellow

Position: Fellow
Dates: August 30 – November 25
Hours: minimum of 80 hours

Location: Fellows will based in or near campus community. A $500 stipend is offered with this fellowship.

Responsibilities:

  • Develop and implement a media strategy that supports organizing efforts
  • Using traditional and social media to create awareness about emerging organizations and initiatives
  • Creating email announcements that uplift and aid organizing work
  • Create materials and keep website updated
  • Recruit and train volunteers for election day poll monitoring
  • Gather pledge cards to engage youth around relevant issues
  • Attend a mandatory three-day organizing training August 30-September 1

FELLOWS MUST HAVE

  • A strong and demonstrated commitment to building the progressive youth and student movement in North Carolina Excellent communication and teamwork skills,
  • Available and willing to work some weekday evenings and weekends
  • Reliable, outgoing, self-motivated and detail-oriented,
  • Must have a driver’s license and preferably a car
  • Be Familiar with wordpress, HTML, social media platforms and have communication experience
  • Demonstrates a passion for understanding strategic communications and its integration into an overall marketing strategy.
  • Exceptional written and personal communication skills
  • Demonstrated creativity in the practice of PR or related field
  • Willingness and ability to work well in teams
  • Experience in manage social media accounts

To apply fill out the application send a copy of your resume to northcarolinaignite@gmail.com

IGNITE NC MISSION STATEMENT

Solutions to the problems facing North Carolina and our global community lie within our ability to work together for the common good and to build the leadership and power of young people to create lasting change.  In order to create the kind of future we all deserve, we must understand our past, defend the gains made by those who came before us, and ignite and empower everyday people to lead efforts to build a fair and just future. When those most affected by injustice are the leaders who find and implement solutions, we will create a better world.

 

 

NC Vote Defender featured in the Nation blog

“In 2012, the Koch brothers and right-wing millionaire Art Pope achieved an extremist takeover of North Carolina, resulting in devastating legislation from healthcare to education to voting rights. Fifty years after the original Freedom Summer in Mississippi, youth are organizing to reverse the onslaught. July 7 marked the first day of hearings for a preliminary injunction on the most draconian voter suppression law in the country, which eliminates same-day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, guts campaign finance laws and requires a photo ID but prohibits the usage of student IDs. In response to this law, we’ve mobilized at Moral Monday’s with the state NAACP, and more than 350 people with NC Vote Defenders and Democracy NChave monitored polls in thirty-four counties. This month, while youth pack the court room and county board of elections, the Youth Organizing Institute Freedom School is training high school students on community organizing to build on the legacy of youth struggle in North Carolina.”

—Bryan Perlmutter

See the full article here