Prepare for new COVID-19 variant, funding justice for HBCUs, fight book bans, and more!
Contact all members of Congress:
- By phone: (202) 224-3121
- By email: democracy.io
- By US mail: Representatives / Senators
- By fax: Representatives / Senators
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Contact White House or other federal agencies:
- RISE IN COVID RATES AND NEW VARIANTS
As summer winds down, we are seeing both a rise in COVID cases (increasing hospitalizations and viral presence in wastewater) and some potentially concerning news about new variants: see this and this. If we have stopped masking, let’s consider resuming use to protect ourselves and others, and let’s prepare for autumn vaccination boosters. When the fall boosters are ready, we can find COVID vaccines here, also stay on top of COVID news through a free subscription to Your Local Epidemiologist.
- EQUITABLE FUNDING FOR HBCUS IN THE FARM BILL
With the Supreme Court striking down affirmative action in higher education, experts expect the historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) will now play a growing role in higher education. HBCU land-grant universities have been subject to discriminatory funding, and their on-campus infrastructure and housing have suffered for it. Land grant schools are provided federal funding in the Farm Bill, and with the current version set to expire at the end of September, Congress has a chance to close a loophole that has allowed the states to deprive HBCU land grant schools of $200 million in matching funds over the last decade alone. Let’s share this report from the Century Foundation on how the Farm Bill can ensure equity and justice for HBCUs with our members of Congress and ask them to follow its recommendations.
- USE COVID RELIEF FUNDS TO RETIRE MEDICAL DEBT IN YOUR COMMUNITY – WHILE YOU STILL CAN
Pittsburgh has become the latest community to use COVID relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to cancel medical debt, with more than 24,000 Pittsburghers set to benefit. Elected officials are working with RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that buys and retires medical debt for pennies on the dollar – a collection agency on the side of good. Billions of dollars of debt has already been wiped out thanks to these programs, but unused COVID relief funds are set to be rescinded in the year’s appropriations as part of the debt ceiling deal, so local and state government are running out of time to take advantage of this opportunity. Let’s contact our local elected officials and encourage them to use remaining ARPA funds to relieve medical debt burdens in our areas while they still can, and consider a donation to RIP Medical Debt ourselves if we can.
- FIGHTING BACK AGAINST BOOK BANNING
What do you do when extremists start challenging books at your school and electing school board members who signed the 1776 pledge? If you are a mom, you step up and say, “hell no!” On Thursday, August 24th at 7:30 pm ET, Red Wine and Blue is hosting a Zoom session to hear from the moms behind Annie’s Foundation as part of their Troublemaker Training. Annie’s Foundation refused to let a small vocal minority be the only voice in their city. Let’s learn how they organized and how they are ensuring that books reach everyone in their community. We can sign up here.
- STARTING A DEMOCRACY CIRCLE
The social justice organizations Center for Common Ground and Workers Circle are hosting their second “So You Want to Start a Democracy Circle” virtual event. Attendees will learn how to organize a small group of people who meet regularly to advance multiracial, multicultural democracy in the US. The event takes place Thursday, August 24, 8PM ET, 5PM PT. Let’s sign up.
- TN – DEMAND GUN SAFETY IN THE SPECIAL SESSION
Months ago, Republican Governor Bill Lee called for a special legislative session in the wake of the Covenant School shooting. That session began Monday, and it became immediately clear legislative Republicans have no interest in using it for good. The House attempted to push new penalties for lawmakers who spoke out of order, continuing their efforts at silencing opposition just weeks after voters decisively returned the Tennessee Two to office, and banned signs from the House gallery and committee rooms. These rules have already been used to kick Covenant School parents out of hearings. A bill on mental health coverage and dozens of bills on gun safety have been blocked, while a bill to arm teachers was quickly advanced. This is not the change Covenant families and their allies have been pushing for. Let’s contact our legislators, along with House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, and tell them we want respect for democracy and real action on gun safety.
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