A Latina’s Call to Action to Become Politically Engaged

by Betty Francisco — Co-Founder Latina Circle

It was an extraordinary experience participating in the Boston Women’s March for America on Saturday. While I have always advocated for issues important to me, I never considered myself an activist who marched or protested in the streets. The Boston Women’s March — for which I extend a huge thanks to the organizers — changed my perspective on activism and what it means to be a truly engaged, global citizen.

As a co-founder of the Latina Circle, a networking group for Latina professionals in Boston, I saw it fitting to become a community partner for the Boston March to raise awareness and participation among Latinos in our community. As Latinos, we are often invisible and excluded from a seat at the table. This was an opportunity to have a voice and to join in solidarity with women and men who care deeply about the future of our families, our communities, and our country. It was the energy, the stories, the diversity and closeness of all the marchers that made me realize the inter-connection we share with one another. The Women’s March reminded me that I was part of something bigger than myself, something bigger than my identity as a woman, a Latina, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a wife. It was humanity coalescing around a shared ideal, that democracy cannot, and must not, be silent, passive, or meek. It was empowering to see so many, so different, yet so together.

The Women’s March brought members of many communities together, communities that had, historically, approached solving their issues alone. As Gloria Steinem noted in her Boston Globe piece this “[w]oman-led and all-inclusive… march is founded on the simple idea that we as human beings are linked, not ranked.” It was this link to each other that sparked a call to action like I have never witnessed before.

I know I am not alone in feeling that this March was the beginning of a movement against complacency, silence and lack of accountability. We must feed off the energy that was ignited globally and work together to move our country forward — keeping justice, equal rights and advancement for all as our top priority. Many of you are asking what comes next and how you can get involved with the causes you care about. The good news is that there are dozens of efforts underway, many of which you can easily plug into at the local level.

This is the first pass at putting together a guide of engagement tools and organizations. We hope you will share other resources in the comments. Scroll through the lineup below and choose what inspires you. Once you start acting on issues that you care about most, your activism will be contagious.

Part 1 — Civic Engagement and Advocacy Tools

These organizations offer tools to get engaged and have a voice in the political process.

1. 10 Actions for First 100 Days by the Women’s March on Washington

Women’s March Postcard

The Women’s March on Washington, which organized the D.C. Women’s March on January 21, 2017 and inspired hundreds of sister marches around the world, is launching a new campaign called 10 Actions for the first 100 Days. The Women’s March on Washington aims to send a message to all levels of government, including but not limited to the incoming Presidential administration, that we stand together in solidarity and we expect elected leaders to protect the rights of women, their families and their communities. Action 1 is to send postcards to your Senators, telling them what’s important to you and why. Sign up.

2. All in Together

The All in Together is the only non-partisan women’s membership organization committed to closing today’s most pressing gender gaps through political and civic leadership and engagement. Members get access to in-depth online and in-person trainings, AIT Forums and conferences across the country. Its website also offers a convenient search tool to find your local elected officials, communicate with them and advocate on important women’s issues. Join now.

3. Daily Action Alert

Daily Action Alert is the new phone service that allows you to call your elected officials about an important issue of the day. When you sign up, you receive one text message every workday about an issue that Daily Action has determined to be urgent based on where you live. Daily text alerts prompt you to call the phone number in your message, listen to a short recording about that day’s issue, and from there you’ll be automatically routed to your Senator, member of Congress, or another relevant elected official. In 90 seconds, you can conscientiously object and be done with it while waiting in line for your morning latte. Sign up by texting the word DAILY to the number 228466 (A-C-T-I-O-N) or at www.dailyaction.org.

4. Indivisible

Indivisible offers a Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda. Created by former Congressional staffers Ezra Levin, Jeremy Haile, and Angel Padilla, this Guide has received national recognition as a best practice for making Congress listen. It is full of effective tips and strategies for reaching out to your elected officials. Indivisible also allows you to search and connect with local groups doing work to resist the Trump Agenda through local defensive Congressional advocacy. Download the Guide.

5. MoveOn.org

MoveOn is the largest independent, progressive, digitally-connected organizing group in the U.S. MoveOn offers online organizing and advocacy techniques to drive social change that have become standard in politics, nonprofits, and industry in the U.S. and worldwide. MoveOn, Indivisible and Working Families Party have launched a “Ready to Resist” campaign to take immediate action against the Trump Agenda. To sign up for action alerts from Move On, text “JOIN” to 668366. Learn more

6. New Leaders Council

The New Leaders Council Institute — NLC — is the premier leadership and professional development, training, mentoring, networking, and career and political advancement program for young professionals. NLC offers an annual intensive, five-month progressive entrepreneurship training program, admitting only 15 to 20 Fellows to each chapter. NLC does not engage in political or legislative activities of any kind, does not support or oppose any candidate for public office, and serves only as an educational leadership training ground. Apply or nominate a leader.

7. Op-Ed Project

The OpEd Project is focused on increasing the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world. Over 80% of opinion (op-ed) pieces are written by white men. As a starting goal, the Op-Ed Project seeks to increase the number of women thought leaders in key commentary forums by offering training and publishing support. Its signature, day-long core seminar is designed to test assumptions about our own knowledge, and what it takes to be influential on a large scale. Write to Change the World.

8. United State of Women

Known for its 2016 #StateofWomen Summit, United State of Women is building an Action Network to connect you directly with organizations and causes working on the issues you care about. You can add your cause or organization on their site. Please include your local efforts in the directory. We’re relying on you to help crowdsource the network. Help Crowdsource the Action Network.

Part 2 — Political Leadership

According to the Center for Women in Politics, women of color constitute 7.1% of the total 535 members of Congress. Of the 75 women serving in statewide elective executive offices, 8, or 10.7%, are women of color. They include the first two women of color to serve as governors, Nikki Haley (SC) and Susana Martinez (NM). Women of color are 22.0% of the 1,806 women state legislators serving nationwide. They constitute 5.4% of the total 7,383 state legislators. Women of color constitute 2.6% of the total 312 statewide elected executives. And in the nation’s 100 largest cities, a mere seven women of color currently serve as mayors.

If these numbers inspire you to run for office or as a campaign leader, these organizations are focused on supporting non-traditional candidates (women, people of color, LGBTQ, and veterans) in local and national races. Elected roles can range from local school councils to national congressional races.

1. Emerge Massachusetts

Emerge Massachusetts is dedicated to getting more Democratic women into elected office by offering comprehensive, 6-month training to women of all ages from communities across Massachusetts. The application window for the Class of 2017 is from July 5th until November 18th, 2017. To learn more, consider attending an upcoming information session. Learn more.

2. EMILY’s List

EMILY’s List is the nation’s largest resource for women in politics. They recruit and train candidates, support campaigns, research the issues that impact women and families, and turn out women voters. Over 40% of EMILY’s List candidates elected to Congress have been women of color — including every single Latina, African American, and Asian American Democratic congresswoman currently serving. EMILY’s list offers local trainings and events that encourage women to run for office. Sign up to receive updates.

3. Greater Boston Latino Network

The Greater Boston Latino Network — GBLN — is a coalition of the Latino-led non-profits in Greater Boston. Their mission is to promote Latino leadership in decision-making positions at the local and state level — from city halls and local boards and commissions, to schools and state agencies. They advocate for policies that bring new voices and leaders from the Latino community to the table to help shape the future of the Commonwealth. Learn more.

4. Latino Victory Project

The Latino Victory Project, co-founded by Eva Longoria and Henry R. Muñoz III, is an ambitious, non-partisan effort to build political power within the Latino community to ensure the voices of Latinos are reflected at every level of government and in the policies that drive our nation forward. The Latino Victory Project offers political leadership training and advocates for voter participation. Latino Victory Foundation and National Hispanic Leadership Agenda recently developed the Latino Talent Initiative (LTI), aimed at influencing presidential appointments and increasing Latino representation in the new administration. Learn more.

5. New Politics

New Politics is a bi-partisan organization that recruits and supports those who have served in the military, AmeriCorps, and Peace Corps to run for office. The organization first rose to prominence with the victory of Democrat Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06), a Marine and Iraq war veteran, in Massachusetts in 2014. New Politics offers training and campaign support through the entire cycle of a campaign and has succeeded in getting 13 candidates elected in local, state, and federal races across the country. Nominate a service leader.

6. NOW

The National Organization for Women — NOW — is largest organization of feminist grassroots activists in the United States dedicated to multi-issue and multi-strategy approaches to women’s rights. NOW’s Political Action Committee supports candidates in federal elections (for Congress and the Presidency), and NOW’s Equality PAC supports candidates for state, county and city offices, from governors to school board members. NOW also organizes local and national events, including a 2017 Fight Back Challenge. Learn more.

7. She Should Run

She Should Run is a non-partisan organization expanding the talent pool of future elected female leaders. When women run for office they win at the same rates as men, yet women are not encouraged and recruited at the same rate as men. She Should Run offers an Ask a Woman to Run program where you can encourage women to run. She Should Run then connects women with resources, people and organizations who can help start their path towards public service. The She Should Run Incubator is an online program to help more women envision themselves in public leadership. Encourage a Woman to Run Now!

8. Victory Fund

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is the nation’s only organization dedicated to electing LGBT leaders to public office at all levels of government. Victory Fund offers campaign training, candidate endorsements, leadership conferences, fellowships and more. Learn more.

9. VoteRunLead

VoteRunLead is a national, nonpartisan organization that unleashes the power of women leaders in democracy through training, technology and community. VoteRunLead uses social networks as a recruitment tool, offers an online platform to teach women’s civic and political leadership, and conducts in-person trainings that build powerful networks. Their 2017 Sister Giant Conference is being host in Washington DC from February 2–4.

Part 3 — Issue Based Movements

A number of organizations advocate for specific issues including education, immigration and healthcare reform. More to come…

· Education. BEAN— Boston Education Action Network is a group of leaders — teachers, parents, students, and community members — that are working towards educational equity and achieving justice for all students in the Boston area. BEAN is offering an Issue Action Training on January 29th in Boston. Register

· Immigration. FWD.us was founded by tech leaders to mobilize the tech community to support immigration reform. Here to Stay is a movement of supporting organizations to fight for the rights of immigrants and create local sanctuary cities.

I hope this offers some helpful resources for you to become engaged in your own way. This is not meant to be an exhaustive listing, but a starting point which all of you can help to build. It’s worth noting that the Women’s Marches across the globe came together as result of collaborations of organizations, people and movements focused on social justice issues. During the next four years, we will need more cross-sector coalitions and partnerships to amplify the work of protecting and supporting our most at-risk communities.

© Betty Francisco, 2017