By Maddie Howard
“We’re all here and prepared to fight,” Leda Anderson of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts emphasized to a standing-room-only crowd assembled in Jamaica Plain’s First Baptist Church last Thursday.
On January 12th, JP Progressives, a Jamaica Plain community group that frequently hosts political events and mobilizes volunteers for campaigns and issues, hosted “Progressivism During Trump,” a panel of experienced activists moderated by Mass Alliance founding director Georgia Hollister Isman. Intended to galvanize post-election urgency into specific action, this event brought established progressive groups together to provide plans of action and field questions from community members late into the evening.
Despite some of the groups assembled being ostensibly apolitical, many made it clear that their fundamental missions were opposed to the imminent political atmosphere. “We are anti-racist and we are anti-oppression,” Boston NAACP president Tanisha Sullivan remarked, “and that’s all I’m going to say.”
“We have changed all of our agenda,” Liza Ryan of The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition shared with the audience, clarifying that MIRA is pushing offense as opposed to defense in advocating for their partner organizations under this administration.
Though national politics naturally loomed large in the conversation, much of the actions discussed were on the local level. Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty program of the ACLU Massachusetts, called for support for the state Trust Act (a bill prohibiting local law enforcement from detaining undocumented immigrants purely for their status), emphasizing the importance of pressuring the mayor, DA, and police. Dick Clapp of 350 Massachusetts and Boston Climate Action Network mentioned hosting house meetings in support of the Community Choice Energy Plan, an initiative to provide more of Massachusetts’ energy from renewable sources.
In response to a question about what threats progressive movements are likely to face, Anderson noted that this is the “first time in a really long time that anti-abortion politicians have controlled both houses & the White House.” Over the next four years, patients on Medicaid could be prevented from accessing the services provided by Planned Parenthood; about 30% of patients in Massachusetts rely on Medicaid now. The currently vacant supreme court seat means a risk of Roe v. Wade being repealed. Sullivan brought up the “sense of empowerment, of liberation by some who have been living in the shadows…that says that it is OK to be racist…we have to be committed to really working hard to stay vigilant on issues of race.” Ryan added the simple fact that due process is under threat, specifically in the case of undocumented immigrants and families. Expedited deportations with no hearing and unlawful detainment are just some of the problems these families encounter.
Despite naming the risks, the panelists and attendees retained optimism and hope for the future. “We like to call ourselves freedom’s law firm,” Crockford said of the ACLUM, calling for citizens to become doubly involved and not “sit out politics.” Ryan called for intersectional organizing and coalition building across issues: “We have to unify to win…Share narratives and work on messaging together. We can’t be divided; your issue is my issue. Get out of your comfort zone.”
The panelists recommended many specific actions to support their institutions and get involved. See below for a sampling of these actions.
- ACLUM: Donate to ACLUM.org, and follow on social media. Sign up for email alerts.
- Planned Parenthood: attend the Million Woman March. Join for Sexual Health Lobby Day on January 31st. Visit pplmvotes.org to sign up for email updates.
- 350 Mass: Join the node meeting that meets at the First Church in Jamaica Plain.
- MIRA: Visit miracoalition.org for ways to help.
- NAACP: Donate your talent & time; what skills do you have to contribute? What is the one issue that gets your blood boiling? If there is an org already working on that, how might you contact them?