As we spend time with loved ones this holiday season, it is fitting to reflect on what families have accomplished in 2018. People of all backgrounds succeeded in both big and small ways by working across boundaries and nurturing a movement of low-income families.
Election 2018 was a big event for families. While the results were mixed, we heard the voices of families loud and clear. Families showed up and voted, making their choices known and contributing to tight candidate races across the country. One thing emerged for me – inspirational change. We know that true democratic power is found in communities, and it comes from families.
One major election victory for the country was Amendment 4 in Florida. Through the power of communities, about 1.4 million U.S. citizens regained their right to vote with its passage. It illustrates diverse families finding common ground – in this case, voting in the world’s strongest democracy – and organizing around it.
The Amendment 4 victory, led by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and a host of allies, marks the largest expansion of voting rights in the U.S. since 1971. It overturns changes to the Florida Constitution that were made shortly after the U.S. Civil War. It increases the possibility of future policy changes for families in the country’s third most populous state.
FRRC’s ability to organize and successfully maneuver a campaign to get this issue on the ballot and win the votes demonstrates how Marguerite Casey Foundation invests in grantees, families and communities – and stands with them for the long haul.
In January, when lawmakers are sworn into office in Congress, we will see greater diversity. We’ll have a record number of women – at least 125 – serving as lawmakers in Congress, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. We’ll also have representatives from Native American, LGBTQ and Muslim communities. In Illinois, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, former executive director of Enlace Chicago, won his bid to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is another triumph for families, as elected leaders are more representative of diverse communities.
While there was progress in 2018, we know 2019 will be important for grantees and families. I expect to see increased organizing for democracy, equity and families. We’ll see greater civic engagement and more families using their voices and votes in Election 2020.
Between now and then, a fair and accurate Census 2020 remains a concern for all families. The U.S. Constitution calls for the full counting of all people on U.S. soil in the decennial census. Its results are used in political redistricting, setting policies and spending billions of public and philanthropic dollars. Accuracy matters.
Movement building does not occur every two or four years, as midterm and presidential elections do. It takes place daily. I am proud Marguerite Casey Foundation remains a steadfast partner with low-income families and community organizations. Our model of multiyear, sizable, general operating grants and listening to family reflects our cornerstone commitment.
As this year comes to an end, it is clear that positive change can be accomplished. It takes work, but it is meaningful. Its results are priceless. What we do for our loved ones, our communities and our country is worth every bit of our effort. This is where we belong together.
As we give thanks this holiday season, I wish you and your family much joy and good health.