OneNation Voter Suppression Shows: Edgardo Cortés/Advancement Project; Myrna Pérez/Brennan Center for Justice; Kemba Smith and Linwood Christian/both are Voting Rights Restoration Activist; Sara Mullen/ACLU PA, Chris Fields/Lawyer’s Committee Civil Rights

PDA Voter Suppression Show #2:

Restoring Democracy – Voting After a Criminal Conviction with Andrea Miller and Rev. Terence Dicks
Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Time: 1pm EST
Call In: (347) 202-0385

Voting is both a fundamental right and a civic duty.

However there remains one significant blanket barrier to the franchise: 5.85 million American citizens are not allowed to vote because of a criminal conviction.

As many as 4.4 million of these people live, work, and raise families in our communities, but because of a conviction in their past they are still denied the right to vote.

Felony disenfranchisement laws in the United States are deeply rooted in the troubled history of American race relations, and the disproportionate racial impact of these laws continues to this day.

Nationwide, 13% of African-American men have lost the right to vote, a rate that is seven times the national average.

Given current rates of incarceration, three in ten of the next generation of African-American men across the country can expect to lose the right to vote at some point in their lifetime – Brennan Center for Justice

Show: Restoring Democracy – Voting After a Criminal Conviction with Andrea Miller and Rev. Terence Dicks
Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Time: 1pm EST
Call In: (347) 202-0385

Our guests work to assist people with convictions in their past to regain their citizenship through restoration of their voting rights:

Myrna Pérez – Brennan Center for Justice
Senior Counsel, Democracy Program

Ms. Pérez works on a variety of voting rights related issues, including redistricting, voter registration list maintenance, and access to the ballot box.

Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Pérez was the Civil Rights Fellow at Relman & Dane, a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Pérez graduated from Columbia Law School in 2003, where she was a Lowenstein Public Interest Fellow.

Following law school, Ms. Pérez clerked for the Honorable Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Ms. Pérez earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Yale University in 1996.

She obtained a masters degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 1998, where she was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service.

Prior to law school, she was a Presidential Management Fellow, serving as a policy analyst for the United States Government Accounting Office where she covered a range of issues including housing and health care.

Kemba Smith – Kemba Smith Foundation/Voting Rights Advocate

In Oct. 2012, Kemba Smith got her voting rights restored after a long struggle.

She is a national motivational speaker, author, and criminal justice advocate.

She was sentenced to 24.5 years in prison for conspiracy to participate in her boyfriend’s drug activities.

At the age of 24, Kemba Smith paid the price for loyalty, dearly.

In 1994, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine for her boyfriend’s drug activities, Kemba, 7 months pregnant at the time, was sentenced to 24.5 years in prison with no possibility of parole.

Although Kemba had no prior criminal record, mandatory minimum sentencing laws have made her and an increasing number of women casualties of excessive punishments that do not fit their crimes.

Kemba, raised in a protective, middle-class community near Richmond, Virginia, had spent the previous four years in an abusive relationship with Peter Hall.

In 1989, Kemba had met Hall as a 19-year-old sophomore at Hampton University.

He was eight years her senior and unbeknown to Kemba, the leader in a $4 million crack cocaine ring and one of the FBI 15 Most Wanted.

Their relationship was a tumultuous one. Kemba would end up making several unsuccessful attempts to leave Hall who abused her physically and emotionally.

When Hall was discovered murdered, the government held Kemba accountable for the total amount of the drugs in his drug conspiracy charge.

Edgardo Cortés – Advancement Project

Edgardo Cortés serves as the Director of the Virginia Voting Rights Restoration Campaign for Advancement Project.

He has worked in elections for more than 10 years, with experience in all facets of the electoral process including campaigns, non-partisan voter registration, federal election policy, and local and state election administration.

Prior to joining Advancement Project, he worked for the Virginia State Board of Elections where he was responsible for updating the state’s Help America Vote Act state plan and Voting System Certification program.

He has previously served as General Registrar for Fairfax County, Virginia, responsible for administering elections in the largest county in Virginia.

Edgardo also worked for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), serving as the Grants Director and as Deputy Director for Policy.

He was responsible for all federal policy related to the National Voter Registration Act and spearheaded the creation of the EAC’s Language Accessibility Program.

Edgardo has managed national non-partisan voter registration drives and Congressional field campaigns.

Edgardo holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Masters degree in political management from the George Washington University.

He lives in Springfield, Virginia with his wife and son.

Linwood Christian – Restoration Activist

Like thousands of African-American men, Linwood had a previous drug conviction. When he applied to have his rights restored in Virginia, he was denied because of moving violations.

After waiting two years, he again applied only to be told by the Commonwealth to “write an essay and describe his church activities.”

Linwood joined other PDA activists in Washington, DC where we hand-delivered a copy of the “church activities” letter to every Virginia Congress member.

A few days later Virginia announced a new and improved streamlined procedure for restoration of voting rights.

Linwood has regained his voting rights and continues to help other community members restore their voting rights.

PDA is supported solely by our members; please consider donating to PDA so that we can continue to provide this type of programming.

If you missed our last show, Voter Suppression – What’s Happening In Your State and What You Can Do About It, you can listen to it here or view it here:

Voter suppression and racism is alive and well in America but we can fight this machine by registering to vote, voting early and fighting Voter ID laws.

“OneNation – Protecting the Vote” with Andrea Miller on Blog Talk Radio

Show #1 “OneNation – Protecting the Vote” with Andrea Miller and Terence Dicks on Blog Talk Radio–whats-happening-in-your-state


Andrea Miller, Deputy Field Director, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)


“Holding elected office is a privilege – voting is a right”

Rev. Terence A. Dicks, PDA Southern Organizer/PDA Georgia Coordinator


Guests Show #1:

Sara Mullen, Assoc. Dir. of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Chris Melody Fields, Election Protection Coordinator for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law

Sara Mullen started in 1997 as a volunteer in the ACLU of PA Pittsburgh office.
She joined the staff as the office manager in Jan. 1998 and became Asst. Dir. of the Pittsburgh Chapter in 2000.

Mullen transferred to the Philadelphia office in Nov. 2002 and currently heads the Community Organizing Dept. and oversees the communications program.

She received her BA in Middle Eastern History from the University of Chicago in 1993.

Mullen previously worked in academic publishing.

Chris M. Fields is campaign manager for the Lawyers’ Committee Election Protection program coordinating coalition efforts to inform voters about their rights and that every vote is counted.

Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee in Dec. 2011, Fields worked in the govt. affairs div. for a biological resource center on the global health/biosecurity agenda.

Fields spent two years as Outreach Dir. for Common Cause advancing the democracy reform agenda and fighting for the Fair Elections Now Act that would create publicly financed campaigns for Congress.

About TerenceDicks

A three-decade community activist for the Augusta, Georgia area, Rev. Terence A. Dicks is very concerned about civil rights, the needs of inner city and moderate and low-income children, fair civil legal representation for low-income and minorities, and many other issues. Terence has fought for civil representation for the low and moderate income involving cases like domestic violence and landlord disputes. In March 2015, Terence was sworn in for a second term to represent the Richmond County Democratic Party on the Richmond County Board of Elections. Rev. Terence Dicks is "widely-acknowledged for standing up for the rights of the powerless in his community and throughout Georgia," stated a press release on the website when he was elected chair of the Augusta Human Relations Commission in July 2005. In 1986, Mr. Dicks was co-coordinator of the Mr. James Brown Appreciation Day in Augusta – the first time the town and its people earnestly expressed love and respect to the late great Godfather of Soul. About 5,000 people attended the event on the banks of the Savannah River including Mr. Robert Johnson (founder of Jet Magazine and much more), Mr. Greg Gumbel (who did story on BET), and Mr. Eldrin Bell (then asst. police chief of Atlanta). Along with Terence, the other co-coordinator was his lifelong friend and classmate Mr. Greg Peterson, an investigative journalist and outdoor environment reporter who started his career in Augusta and now lives in Ishpeming, MI in the Upper Peninsula near Lake Superior. The event broke the ice and led months later to the first concert Mr. Brown had ever performed in Augusta – ironically in the civic center that now bears his name (the renaming took another 20 years). Music Industry legends Casey Kasem and Dick Clark recorded radio PSAs to promote the free event. Mayor Charles DeVaney – a fan of Mr. Brown – prevented the celebration from being cancelled at the last minute by waiving the “mandatory” insurance requirements. Mr. Brown and Mr. DeVaney both died unexpectedly a month apart. We continue to love and honor the late great Mr. James Brown, who nearly single-handedly quelled Augusta's race riots and prevent further rioting in the 60, 70s. The "Hardest-Working Man in Show Business" Mr. James Brown made Terence Dicks the manager of his first-ever concert in Augusta, GA - about 6 months after the 1986 James Brown Appreciation Day. The concert was held on Saturday, December 27, 1986 at the civic center named in the godfather of Soul’s honor some 20 years later. Terence was the concert manager, producer and promoter. Tickets were only $15 ensuring all Augustans could afford to attend and the first 500 children under the age of 12 were admitted free in accordance with Mr. Brown’s wishes. Among those performing were Mr. Wilson Pickett, John Marshall, Buzz Clifford and Sequence 8. “Claiming A Street Named King” is an initiative Mr. Dicks started during tenure as chair of Georgia Clients Council. The project is about “taking back the street in by building businesses and homes on the crime-ridden abandoned boulevards that bear the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” However the project also has a wider scope. Dicks said the project would welcome claiming back streets named after other civil rights leaders and activists from all backgrounds. For example, the project would welcome groups or persons who want to revitalize streets named for late singer James Brown, the late Coretta Scott King, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, Grace Lee Boggs, Cesar Chavez and others. “All of these community leaders have messages of hope and accomplishment,” said Dicks, who hopes to hear from the centers, foundations and projects of these community leaders. “People can identify with their day to day struggles,” he said. “Above all they cared about the community they came from,” Dicks said. “They all have made a historic difference.” Reclaiming the streets and heritage of these civic leaders can reinvigorate “economic development and economic empowerment” in each community that honors their work. Rev. Dicks hopes to help others “improve the condition of boulevards named after Martin Luther King, Jr. across Georgia” and the nation. Author Jonathon Tilove “wrote the book that inspired me” entitled "Along Martin Luther King: Travels on Black America's Main Street.” Mr. Dicks hopes those interested will message him thru WordPress/Twitter/Facebook. The project is supported by East Carolina University Professor Derek H. Alderman. “Dr. Alderman is a geographer who has helped us to work on a plan for the redevelopment of the Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards,” Dicks said. “There was a lot of hope around those streets and what he did for me is he reminded me of why we name those streets for Martin Luther King, Jr.," he said. "We are heading into the second or third generation who doesn’t know about Dr. King and his achievements." “The generation that starts it doesn’t have to be the generation who built it,” he said. “We have to keep Dr. King’s work alive – keep it relevant and cogent.” Terence is a longtime member (2004-present) of the Augusta Progressive Religious Coalition. The coalition includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Unitarian Universalists, pagans, and local Yoruba, who practice folk religion from West Africa. Among the many positive aspects of the coalition, Dicks developed a relationship with Omar Neal, who has been the Mayor of Tuskegee, Alabama since Nov. 3, 2008. Mr. Omar Neal was the keynote speaker of the 2011 Martin Luther King Day celebration organized by the Augusta Progressive Religious Coalition on Mon., Jan, 24, 2011 at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta. After being an independent voter for two decades, Terence joined the Richmond County Democratic Party (RCDP) in 2002. He joined the Democratic Committee of Richmond County that “has jurisdiction over Democratic Party affairs in Richmond County” and a “purpose is to help select and elect Democratic Party Candidates to office” and whose platform includes “those of the Democratic Party of Georgia.” Terence has served as chair of the RCDP Political Action Committee (PAC) and performed duties that included community outreach. Mr. Dicks is member of the Richmond County State Committee (2011-2014) representing the 12th Congressional District. He served for six years (2002-2008) as state chair of the Georgia Clients Council plus served on the council board for eight years (2000-2008). For nearly a decade, Terence has been a board member (2002-present) of Georgia Legal Services Program and served (2005-2010) on the organization’s Georgia Committee on Civil Justice and is on the state bar president advisory committee. The mission of Georgia Legal Services Program is “to provide access to justice and opportunities out of poverty for low-income Georgians.” In 2007, Mr. Dicks founded the non-profit Georgia Center for Children and Education Inc. and serves as the volunteer executive director. The goal of the organization is encouraging parent involvement in education and to support community involvement in public schools. Originally the Center for Children and Education, the project was founded 1997 by Philadelphia, PA attorney Baruch Kintisch, a former staff attorney for Georgia Legal Services After exhaustive planning, Terence helped co-write and secure a $255,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in the spring of 2008 that is being administered by Paine College for the "New Tools, New Visions 2 Augusta" Project and he serves on the project steering committee. Rev. Dicks is a longtime member of the International Leadership Association (2001-present). Mr. Dicks serves as state of Georgia Coordinator (2008-present) for the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). He joined the national PDA in 2007. For over a decade (1998-2009), Terence served on the board of the Augusta Human Relations Commission including two-terms as chair, three terms as vice-chair. Terence served as a board member (1994-1996) and the second vice president of the Augusta Branch of the NAACP including chair of the fair housing committee. Terence graduated from Westside High School in 1980 during which time he was a member of the WJBF TV-6 Junior Achievement Company that involved filming, editing, producing and hosting 30-minute issue-oriented public service programs that aired on weekends with student-sold commercials. Terence did a summer internship in 1980 – just after graduating from high school – at the Medical College of Georgia Television Production and was taught by people who include the late TV Director Mr. Armond “Brother” Jackson , Jr. - a longtime TV production expert in Augusta including at WRDW TV-12 and WJBF TV-6. During high school and for about 7 years afterward, Terence was a radio announcer at several Augusta radio stations including disc jockey (when records were vinyl 45s), sports, features, talk show and more. The stations included WBIA and WCKJ. Terence worked in production at WAGT-TV with Mr. Frank Crotts including being a live switcher (punching proper buttons to keep shows going and inserting commercials). He also worked at several Augusta restaurants as a chef and bartender.
Video | This entry was posted in 2012 Elections, 2012 Presidential Election, 2012 Progressive Southern Strategy, 866 Our Vote,, ACLU of Pennsylvania, activist, Advancement Project, African American, African American men, African Americans, African-American youth, ALEC Crow Laws, America, American Civil Rights Movement, American Legislative Exchange Council, Andrea Miller, anti-women, Augusta, black youth behind bars, black youth in jail, black youth in prison, Black Youth Incarceration, blog talk radio, Brennan Center for Justice, Chesterfield, Chris Fields, Chris Melody Fields, Civil Rights Act, Claiming A Street Named King, democracy, Democracy Program, Democracy Restoration Act, Democrat, Democratic Party, Democratic Party of Georgia, Democrats, dignity, disenfranchised, disenfranchised for life, disenfranchisement, Edgardo Cortés, Election Protection, Electoral Reform, equity, ex-felon, ex-felons, Fair Elections, fair elections, Fair Elections Now Act, fairness, felon, felon disenfranchisement, felon voting rights, fight voter suppression laws, fighting Racism, Georgia Center for Children and Education, Georgia Center for Children and Education, Inc., human rights, incarcerated, incarcerated African American males, ingrained racism, intolerance, justice, Kemba Smith, lawyer, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, Liberal, liberty, Linwood Christian, low-income people, mass incarceration, Minorities, Minority, Myrna Perez, NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Obama Administration, Old Confederacy, old South, PDA, PDA National Deputy Field Director, PDA Progressive Southern Strategy, Political, Political Power, Politician, Politicians, Politics, Pres. Obama, president, President Barack Obama, President Obama, Presidential election, prison, Progressive Democrats of America, Progressive Democrats of America Progressive Southern Strategy, Racism, Rev. Terence A. Dicks, Rev. Terence Dicks, Richmond County Democratic Party, rural Georgia, Sara Mullen, Slave Port, social change, Social Inequality, social justice, Terence A. Dicks, Terence Dicks, The Black Youth Project, The South, The Southernization of America, Two-party system, union, union workers, unions, voter, Voter ID, Voter ID laws, Voter IDs, Voter Suppression, voter suppression laws, voting, voting rights and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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