|Southern Regional Conference of Independents|
Georgia Independent Voters ("GIV") co-chair Murray Dabby (right) with independent broadcaster Rob Redding of www.ReddingNewsReview.com.
Dr. Lenora Fulani and Nancy Ross of CUIP traveled to Atlanta this spring for the first ever Southeastern Conference of Independent Voters. The conference was held over the weekend of March 18th-19th and was co-hosted by Al Bartell and Audrey Mowdy of IMove (Independent Movement) and Murray Dabby of Georgia Independent Voters (GIV). It brought together 45 independents from five states: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Washington, DC.
The meeting kicked off with a joint press conference featuring four of the co-complainants in what is perhaps the first test case on the applicability of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to minority voters enrolled in an independent party. Dr. Lenora Fulani was joined by Al Bartell, Audrey Mowdy and Ron Parker, a long-time community activist in Atlanta, at the press conference in which they called upon Congressional Black Caucus members to urge the Justice Department to open a full investigation of the state Independence Party's move to dissolve three county organizations within New York City where the party's minority voting base is concentrated. Attorney Harry Kresky patched into the press conference via telephone. The Associated Press, WCBS TV, and People TV, a local cable access show, attended. Read Dr. Fulani's press statement here.
Following the press conference, Fulani and Bartell went in-studio for a two hour interview with WAOK radio host Shelly Wynter that brought out several of Wynter's listeners to the conference the following day.
Dr. Fulani in studio with WAOK host Shelly Wynter.
On Saturday, Reverend Jackie Robinson opened the event by reminding participants that if you step out of the box, the powers that be will call you "crazy.Ă˘â‚¬Âť But, as Dr. Fulani replied, "that is one of the nicest things that has been said about me!Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Fulani delivered the keynote with a vivid account of why Democratic, Republican and corrupted Independence Party leaders were attempting to disenfranchise black independents in New York City, and why it's critical that the Justice Department step in. Read Dr. Fulani's keynote address here.
The conference launched a national lobbying campaign targeting Congress and the Justice Department with a simple message: conduct an investigation into voting rights violations by the state leadership of the Independence Party. To find your congressional representative go to www.house.gov. To find your Senator go to: www.senate.gov.
The conference was covered by Rob Redding, of www.ReddingNewsReview.com and the Atlanta Daily World, an African American weekly.
Helen Blocker-Adams-host of follow-up conference in Augusta June 16-17.
Here's what some of the participants had to say about the conference:
Audrey Mowdy, Georgia: The conference was a beginning point and a necessary one. The Justice Department complaint is important particularly for poor people, because if we don't stand on principle, and begin to show force, we can't commit to end injustice.
Wayne Griffin, South Carolina: I thought the meeting was very informative. It was good to interact with people throughout the south and see people face to face. As a complainant, I think it's important that we filed the complaint because the Voting Rights Act should protect our right to vote and not our right to belong to the Democratic Party.
Sterling Passmore, North Carolina: ...Lenora Fulani gave us updates and helped us set goals for the future of IMOVE. To say the least, this Southern Boy was MOVED by her words. I urge each and everyone to send to your Representative a copy of the letter concerning the violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We as Independents must take a stand to protect the rights of ALL VOTERS...Let your Representative know... (Like Bob Dylan song...the times they are a changing) that you are a proud Independent Voter and YES your vote counts.
Bob Friedman, Alabama: As someone who's been active for a long time politically, I find it very moving and powerful to hear the commitment of ordinary people in this tough business to try to salvage and even expand our democracy. Throughout all of this, Lenora has remained Lenora while enduring so much, which for me is proof again, that our struggle is most human at its core.
Ron Parker, Georgia: I was very inspired to see how people came together to work on building the independent movement. A mandate to get out and recruit was given by Dr. Fulani and after leaving the conference I was ready to hit the streets. So, I began by asking friends and family to sign letters to Congress about the Justice Department complaint. I've gotten several signed and plan to do more at other meetings I'll be attending.
Al Bartell, Georgia: The conference was a milestone in establishing the national independent movement in the south and beginning the process to call on the Justice Department to account for organizations that commit violations of the Voting Rights Act as we see in New York. This was an important accomplishment.
Helen Blocker-Adams, Georgia Ă˘â‚¬â€śI thought the conference was enlightening, and Dr. Fulani is my new hero! The information about the complaint was very important, and I learned new terms like ballot access that I wasn't aware of before that are important to independents. The idea of educating the voter is very empowering for me.