By Delicia Hand and Frankie Robertson
The MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC) Policy and Advocacy Committee sets the strategic policy priorities and drives advocacy initiatives for the organization. As a committee, we set MUSC’s policy agenda, research policies that impact Black men and boys, identify opportunities to advocate on behalf of our sons, and guide MUSC’s approach and responses to instances where Black men and boys have been victims of unjustified force and violence by police.
This summer, the committee continued its work of developing strategy and content for many different calls to action. Some calls to action served to bring awareness to incidents around the country where Black men and boys were subjected to excessive force when interacting with police and to demand swift and transparent action to bring officers to justice. These calls to action included: Carteret, NJ; Lansing, IL, and San Diego, CA.
Other calls to action served to move forward our state legislative campaign, which we launched this Spring. As the legislative season winds down in most state houses, we have continued to focus on states with longer legislative sessions, such as CA. There we continue to support Senate Bill 10 (to change the bail system), which is being considered by the CA Assembly. We have issued a call to action for members to contact representatives who voted against the measure previously.
This summer, the committee has focused on outreach and developing relationships with key stakeholders -- peer organizations, national policymakers, and social justice press. Specifically we have revitalized #MOBBUnitedGetInvolved, as we have encouraged members to reach out to Congressional representatives to request in district recess meetings in August and have attended town hall meetings. Meetings thus far have included those with representatives Cedric Richmond, Representative Elijah Cummings, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Kamala Harris, and Representative Gwen Moore. (Also, we have meetings planned with representative Karen Bass and are securing meetings with representatives Anthony Brown, Al Green, David Scott, Sheila Jackson Lee, Hank Johnson, G.K. Butterfield, and Frederica Wilson.)
Olivette Green Temple (left), Representative Cedric Richmond (center), and
Frankie Robertson (right)
Frankie Robertson (left) and
Olivette Green Temple
In these meetings, we have introduced MUSC and shared with them how our sister organization, Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., can be a resource to them and their constituents and how MUSC serves as a voice to improve policies to change outcomes for Black men and boys.
We have engaged 15 Congressional Representatives; there are 520 who still need to hear from a mom. Do you have a relationship with your Congressional representative or their staff? Would you like to inform them about policies that impact your sons? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can represent MUSC at a meeting with your Congressional representative.
Additionally, committee members have ensured that MUSC has a presence at key legislative conferences and convenings. In early August, MUSC attended the Georgia Black Legislative Conference, and in mid-September, members also will attend the Congressional Black Caucus’ (CBC) Annual Legislative Conference. We also are looking to participate on a panel and are in conversation with CBC staff about this possibility. This Fall, if you would like to attend the CBC with us, contact: email@example.com.
Moving forward, we will pivot from legislative advocacy and outreach this Fall to begin planning for 2018’s legislative and electoral season. We are doing research to organize a policy platform so that we are prepared for the 2018 legislative session. In addition to finding legislation that is aligned to our mission, the platform will allow us to identify and develop legislative proposals proactively. During the electoral season, we plan to educate the membership, ensure that our members and age appropriate sons are registered to vote, work with the membership to get out the vote, and conduct targeted outreach. There are many law enforcement officials -- mayors, district attorneys and sheriffs, among others -- who will be elected next year. They need to know moms all over the country are engaged and will vote. We need YOU for this fight!
The committee also now houses our Call Center -- a virtual group of moms who make regular calls to law enforcement officials and elected representatives in support of our advocacy actions. Laila Aziz is the new lead of the call center.
If you have the drive to seek policy solutions and be an advocate for your son(s), then please join the Policy and Advocacy Committee. If you have a background in law or policy, then the committee especially needs YOU! We meet every other week on Thursdays via conference call at 10 PM EST. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*As members have taken the time to attend congressional town hall meetings in their states and districts, we have asked them to share in the private MOBB United Facebook group what they have done personally to affect change for our Black sons. Communications Director Vanessa McCullers attended Congressman Brad Sherman’s meet and greet at a recent town hall at Lake Balboa Park in her local California area. She shared with him her concerns about the school-to-prison pipeline and bail reform, and they discussed setting up a future meeting. Her post is republished with here with her permission.
“Stopped by the park to meet Congressman Brad Sherman. We talked for about 8 mins about white supremacy, monetary bail reform, the school-to-prison pipeline oh and this little organization called Moms of Black Boys United for Social Change. We certainly didn't agree in certain areas but I was pleased that he took a moment to talk and showed general concern for most things. My little detour only took 15 mins out of my busy evening. A phone call takes less time, a tweet even less. We MUST raise our voices on a local/state level. That's where it counts! I may not have the right to vote in this country but I'll be damned if my voice isn't heard in other ways.”
Vanessa McCullers and
Congressman Brad Sherman
Tammy Greer (left),
a Senator Kirsten Gillibrand staffer, and
MUSC Founder Depelsha McGruder
lobbying on behalf of our sons at the office of Senator Gillibrand (D-NY)
Also, Patty Garrett attended a town hall meeting in Fulton County, Georgia with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) at Kennesaw State, a local university. She explained what MOBB United is all about, expressed her concerns for her son and all Black boys and men, and questioned his support of de-escalation training for law enforcement. Patty also attended a town hall meeting with Representative John Lewis (D-GA).
Patty Garrett and
Representative John Lewis