This summer, our nation has witnessed a series of disturbing milestones. From the rollback of gun safety measures amid back-to-back massacres to the historic repeal of Roe v. Wade to the stripping of EPA powers to protect our planet despite the existential threat of climate change, one reality stands out: Our freedoms are under attack. The U.S. Supreme Court has methodically chipped away at our rights to make decisions about our own bodies, to live free of gun violence, and even survive on an inhabitable planet — and is signaling they would undermine LGBTQ+ rights as well.
All the while, conservative lawmakers are preparing to further dismantle our democracy by elevating states’ rights over federally protected individual rights and enshrine these disastrous decisions into law. Make no mistake: this represents only the beginning for this increasingly conservative court and the rightwing machine that installed it — and the clock keeps ticking to change the course set for our country. With under 90 days until the Nov. 8 midterm elections, the stakes could not be any higher.
For all our movements, everything that we love is on the line. We are in a state of emergency that requires the civil rights, women’s rights, labor, environmental and social justice communities to work together during a summer of activism. So where there’s life, there’s hope — but only if we fight for a future worth hoping for. From the 1964’s Freedom Summer to the 2020 protests in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, we have always demonstrated our perseverance in the face of injustice, letting the heat of a July morning fuel our righteous anger rather than deflate it.
And so, in the spirit of our ancestors, over 50 organizations have signed onto our NCBCP Unity 2022 Black Voting & Power Building Campaign to serve as national and state partners, starting with our call organize a summer of activism, to mobilize our neighbors, friends and loved ones, and empower our community members to use every tool at our disposal to fight back against these catastrophes — all the way to the ballot box in November 2022.
We urgently need to elect leaders who will fight to cure what ails our damaged democracy and codify our sacred rights into law. That entails voting for lawmakers who will work for us, not conservative, reactionary, bought-and-paid-for forces that are weaponizing the courts in order to execute an unconstitutional power grab. Because let’s be clear: when radical conservatives take power, marginalized and low-wealth communities suffer most.
Nearly 40% of all abortions in America since Roe vs. Wade have been by Black women. Who pays the price when abortions are outlawed? Poor women, women of color, and the millions of women who already face limited access to high-quality health care.
From Charleston to El Paso to Buffalo, the past decade reveals that racially motivated shootings and domestic terrorism are on the rise — with Black and brown communities in the direct line of fire. Who pays the price when common sense gun legislation is held up and rolled back while white nationalists are emboldened to emerge from their hiding places? Black, Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander, Jewish and Muslim people.
The climate emergency means hotter summers, more destructive tornadoes, stronger hurricanes. Who bears the brunt of this crisis? Black and brown communities living in neighborhoods devastated by environmental racism. As our communities choke on toxic air and dirty water, drown in Southern floods, and are forced into displacement because of increasingly hostile and extreme weather patterns, our lawmakers are happy to fill their pockets with donations from the same harmful corporations who are facilitating this catastrophe.
Enough is enough.
We’re calling on our brothers and sisters who believe in democracy and justice for all to own your voting power, fight for ALL of your rights and freedoms. Naysayers might tell you that voting doesn’t make a difference or that all politicians are the same. We know this isn’t the case.
In fact, we are stuck with three of the ultra-conservative justices on the bench today partially due to the results of the 2016 presidential election. When turnout was higher than ever in 2020, it led to Vice President Kamala Harris being elected to serve as the first Black and South Asian female vice president; and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, being sworn in as the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Elections matter. If voting did not matter, too many conservatives and white nationalists in Congress, in courts, gubernatorial offices and state legislatures across the nation wouldn’t be working so hard to take our rights and freedoms away to maintain white power and privilege for a few, at the expense of everyone else.
We stand at a perilous crossroads. What’s at stake? Bodily autonomy, gun safety, civil rights, marriage equality, the future of the planet — the list goes on. We can sit back and descend deeper into fascism, leaving future generations to inherit a nation led by racists. Sexists and white nationalists. Or we can stand up to the right-wing zealots that will gleefully throw us under the bus for their own personal gain. That starts with voting them out to save our democracy from peril.
Our freedom is in danger — but we will not go silently in the night. We have 90 days to organize, mobilize and vote like our lives depend on it, because it does. Now is the time to live out the movement chant in your community that states, “When Our Lives Are Under Attack, what do we do, STAND UP, FIGHT BACK!” Let’s fight back together.
Campbell is president/CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable.