We Grieve, We Find Hope, and We Move Forward

Dear PA family,

As the results of this election sink in, our minds and hearts are heavy. We are grieving. We find hope in local and state progressive victories. We look ahead to what this time will require of us.

We are grieving. We grieve because today people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities, women, and many others feel less safe and less valued in this country. We grieve because we expect and fear unprecedented rollbacks of policies that protect people and our planet. We reject reactions to this election that undermine the legitimacy of these fears. We must not bury the fear and pain we feel in this moment. Masking our country's widespread fear and anger will only normalize hate, racism and misogyny.

We find hope in local and state progressive victories. As we prepare for unprecedented battles at the national level, we are grateful that progress won for many of our friends in local races. We find hope and light in this:

Shamieka Rhinehart will be our District Court Judge. Heidi Carter, James Hill, Brenda Howerton, Wendy Jacobs, Ellen Reckhow will be our County Commissioners. Mike Woodard, Floyd McKissick, Graig Meyer, Henry Michaux, and the person who has the honor of filling Paul Luebke's seat will fight for our shared values in the state legislature. State Representative James Hall will continue as NC House Democratic Leader. Mike Morgan will be North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice, Josh Stein will be Attorney General and we are confident that Roy Cooper will prevail in the recount and be our next Governor. Representatives Price and Butterfield will continue to represent us in Congress.

We have Durham to thank for this hope. We are proud of People's Alliance's pivotal role in securing these electoral victories. We want to express our immense gratitude to Kate Fellman and all the You Can Vote volunteers (a program we are proud to say was born out of PA). We know our efforts here in Durham matter and make a difference.

We believe in these elected officials and know that they will fight for a Durham and a country where all people can live well. We have to be prepared to work with them - to back them up when they need us, to help create pathways for them to be bold​,​ and to push them toward opportunities to go further in our fight for progress.

We look ahead to what this time will require of us. This election is a dark moment in American history; one that marks a powerful rise of the forces of racism​, Islamophobia,​ and misogyny that have always been a plague on this nation's soul. But it will also mark the time that we rise up. This is the moment when unprecedented local organizing and bold activism will create change. This work will not wait until the next election. For Democracy to work, for justice to prevail, we must show up for this work every day.

As the People's Alliance board, we commit to joining with our community and other progressive organizations in Durham to create a bold, intersectional activist movement. As individuals, we commit to recognizing the privileges we each possess and using those to put ourselves between hateful forces and people of color, Muslims, LGTBQ folks, women, people with disabilities and our other family and friends who are subjected to violence and disenfranchisement.

In the coming weeks, we will work to determine how People's Alliance can strengthen the movement required by these times. This work will take all of us - please join us.

We will fight.

With love and compassion,


People's Alliance Board

Vernetta Alston, Eric Boven, John Davis, DeDreana Freeman, Dabney Hopkins, Marion Johnson, Kendra Montgomery-Blinn, Destini Riley, Carl Rist, Lanya Shapiro, Ryan Smith, Sondra Stein, Sara Terry, Magan Thigpen, Tommie Watson

Speaking Up and Showing Up for Black Lives

Dear PA members and friends,

In July, we wrote to you with a call for reflection and action in response to the killings of people of color at the hands of police across the country. This week, we are mourning the killing of Keith Scott by a police officer and the killing of a black man protesting Mr. Scott's death.  We are also standing in solidarity with our neighbors and family in Charlotte who are protesting a long history of injustice in the city and across our state and nation; and we join them in calling for transparency, accountability, and justice -- three things that have been in short supply when it comes to the killing of black men by police.

We are writing to you again today because to be silent in this time of violence against people of color is to condone and perpetuate the systems that allowed Keith Scott to be killed in Charlotte two days ago and for hundreds of others across the country to have died at the hands of police. 

You are a member of People's Alliance because you believe in local, progressive action that will help advance a Durham where all people can live well. We have a choice - both as individuals, and as People's Alliance - about how how we will work to pursue our vision at this critical moment.

As the Board of People's Alliance, we have a responsibility to organize progressives, and our predominately white membership, in explicitly anti-racist work. When we wrote to you earlier in the summer, we announced that one piece of this work for us is organizing a series of living room conversations (LRCs) about a range of topics related to race equity in Durham. We created these LRCs as a space for us to come together to learn, reflect, and take action toward creating a more just and equitable Durham. These conversations will be getting underway in the next couple of weeks but there is still room to participate; click here to view the different topics and sign-up for one.

As individuals, we also have a choice about how we will each work to dismantle systemic racism. This may look like reading and broadcasting the news as reported by people of color, providing financial support to organizing efforts or physically showing up to protest. For white people, this may also mean having difficult conversations with friends and family about how theybenefit from systemic racism.

We hope that you will join us in speaking up and showing up for black lives.

With love and hope for greater justice,

People's Alliance Board

Vernetta Alston, Eric Boven, John Davis, Kendra Montgomery-Blinn, DeDreana Freeman, Dabney Hopkins, Marion Johnson, Destini Riley, Carl Rist, Lanya Shapiro, Ryan Smith, Sondra Stein, Sara Terry, Magan Thigpen, Tommie Watson

Letter from the PA Board-A Call for Reflection and Action

Dear Durham People’s Alliance Members and Friends,

The Board of the PA is writing to you, our members and supporters, to invite you to join us in reflection and  action in this moment. The deaths of people of color at the hands of police across our nation are resonating in painful ways for our community and generating important conversations about how we will choose to let these tragedies shape the future of Durham.

For forty years, People’s Alliance has organized and acted in pursuit of a more progressive vision of our city - a place where all people can live well. We are, unfortunately, far from that vision today; the Board believes this is a critical moment for our members to come together with other progressives in the community to engage in conversations about the work that will move us closer to a Durham for all. In these conversations, we are committed to reflecting on what we can learn from individual or collective actions that we may have taken in the past that are standing in the way of that progress, and looking forward to the role we can play in dismantling a system of white privilege, violence, and oppression against people of color in our community.

We have recently seen the conversation about police violence come to life in our city in the Facebook post made by City Councilwoman Jillian Johnson last month and the responses community members had to her statement (you can view details about her post
here). Our Board members believe that Jillian’s post acknowledged the real experience of  many people of color in our country and city with police, an experience born from systemic racism that influences (if not shapes) all our institutions.  The result is that many experience police actions as state-sanctioned violence. We cannot deny the reality of this experience for many of our neighbors.  To do so is to choose blindness over empathy, revisionist history over truth. Our Board also believes that Jillian’s statement is consistent with how she has always represented her positions  and reinforces the reasons we believe her voice and leadership are critically important on our City Council. We also heard the many people in our community who vehemently disagreed with Jillian’s statement.

We know that the members of our PA community are committed to a progressive vision of a Durham where all people can live well. But we also know that we come to this work with diverse beliefs about how we move toward that vision, beliefs that are largely shaped by our individual lived experiences. As a community organization, we want to create a space for our members to do the personal work of educating ourselves about these issues and how they are experienced by people with different perspectives than ours and to engage with each other in a dialogue about how we can collectively work for a Durham for all.

A call to action for our members:
People’s Alliance will be hosting a series of living room conversations that will include readings and discussion about systemic racism, white privilege and public safety reform in Durham. If you are interested in participating in a living room conversation, please click here to indicate your interest, preferences in meeting time and share any input you have on the content of these convenings.

These conversations are just one of the ways in which we encourage our members to take action in this time. As an organization, PA will continue to seek ways to create spaces for our members and the community at large to engage in meaningful dialogue around the issues most critical to the future of Durham. As a Board, we will continue our work in building a Durham for all, which includes our commitment to:

  • Listen to, and stand in solidarity with, organizations led by people of color in our community

  • Host educational events for our membership, including the living room conversations and Progressive Issue Forums that are currently planned to discuss Pre-K For All and living wages

  • Continue our Internal work with our Board and Action Teams to develop and apply a lens of racial equity to all of the work we do

  • Consider how we can more consistently pursue our commitment to racial equity  in our approach to electoral politics.

We welcome our members and others in the community to reach out to us with your thoughts on how PA can best work toward our vision of a city where all people can live well. As we reflect on 40 years of PA in Durham, we know that this is a critical time for our community to have challenging conversations, do the hard work of reform and fight every day for the future Durham we want to live in.

The People’s Alliance Board,

Vernetta Alston, Eric Boven, John Davis, Kendra Montgomery-Blinn, DeDreana Freeman, Dabney Hopkins, Marion Johnson, Mel Norton, Destini Riley, Carl Rist, Lanya Shapiro, Ryan Smith, Sondra Stein, Sara Terry, Magan Thigpen, Tommie Watson

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