The Death of Democracy: Voter Suppression in the 21st Century
The cornerstone of democracy is the guaranteed right to vote. However, since 2014 over 33 million American citizens have been dropped from the voting rolls. Most have been moved from the rolls due to a resurgence of voter suppression tactics and politics. Minority voters have been intentionally targeted with these efforts and are disproportionately impacted. This is perhaps the biggest existential threat to American democracy in modern times. However, as voters and citizens we can solve the voter suppression issue in ways that not only protect the right to vote but ultimately strengthens our democracy.
Culture and Context Matters! Building Political Power through Storytelling and Strategic Messaging
We’re currently in an era where people are receiving information and developing political ideologies through non-vetted social media outlets, political soundbites, and opinion-based news networks. Political extremists have built a base of supporters by propagating false information, sensationalized conspiracies and theories based in fear and not fact. This has led to the widespread distrust of American voters in political systems. How do we build trust in the American democratic system? What reforms are needed and what must we protect at all costs?
Who Will Save America Democracy? The Role of Women, Young Voters and People of Color in American Politics
As America becomes younger and more diverse we can predict that an inevitable political shift will occur. What will that shift look like and what will be the long-term impact on democracy? Will identity politics play a role in unifying and/or widening the political divide in America? How will the new majority save and/or expand American Democracy?
We the People: Mobilizing Voters, Strengthening Voting Rights & Combating Voter Suppression
The 2013 Shelby vs. Holder Supreme Court decision gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1964. It opened the floodgates for the devolution of voting rights, thus leaving the door wide open for voter suppression. Since the ruling, we have witnessed the accelerated rolling back of voting rights protections, particularly in the South. We have also seen the reestablishment of anti-democratic state based laws and the implementation of political barriers that prevent free and fair access to the ballot. In light of this, how do we protect the right to vote with a weakened Voting Rights Act? How do we strengthen democracy in an environment where the right to vote for many is openly being attacked? What are the most effective and innovative strategies in this current political environment to address voter suppression, mobilize voters and expand democracy.
Tapping into the Power of the Sister Vote! The Impact and Influence of Women Voters in the 21st Century
On January 21, 2017, the world witnessed one of the largest protest marches ever in modern history — all organized and led by women. In December 2017, we witnessed an unexpected rare and historic defeat for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. What led to this defeat? It resulted from the work, coordination and political strategy led by women. We also witnessed in the 2018 midterms the landslide election of more women members of Congress than ever in this country’s history. Currently, we also have the largest field of women candidates for the highest office in the land—the American presidency.
On the eve of the 2020 presidential cycle, what will be the impact of women voters next cycle? What are the factors that propelled this increased representation of women within political leadership? Are we moving towards reflective democracy? How is this political moment different from previous feminist and suffrage movements? How does gender identity impact and/or influence the national political landscape? Is America ready for a woman as president of the United States?
How to Make a Voter: Creating Engaged and Informed Citizens in Democracy
America’s political landscape is shifting in both the global and domestic arenas in ways that threaten the foundation of this country as being a democratic nation. We are witnessing: the shifting of the perception and function of the Executive Branch, the increasing over-reach of Presidential powers, the politicization of the Supreme Court, the intentional reduction of the role of federal agencies in state oversight, an increased polarized Congress based along party lines, and the stacking of the federal courts with conservative ring-wing judges.
We are also bearing witness to the passage and implementation of deeply troubling policies, state sanctioned acts and legislation that impact the civil and human rights of immigrant groups, women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. In light of these political changes, we must ask ourselves two critical questions: 1.) How do we implement innovative practices and new political organizing models to reverse this trend? 2.) How do we reinforce and expand America’s commitment to democracy? How do we inspire, engage and motivate American citizens to participate in the political process?
LaTosha Brown is a national treasure, tailoring memorable messages of hope and shared humanity
When LATOSHA BROWN stopped by the Harry Walker Agency for a virtual visit, we were simply blown away by her high-energy message of hope and shared humanity. Ms. Brown is an award-winning organizer, political strategist, and consultant with over two decades of experience working in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors, and is perhaps best known for co-founding the Black Voters Matter Fund. Also an accomplished jazz singer, she kicked off the riveting virtual event with an incredible musical interlude, sharing her passion for connection through song as a reminder of our shared humanity. No stranger to the obstacles of advocating for social justice, political empowerment, economic development, and civil rights, Ms. Brown views the current political climate as an opportunity to be honest about the challenges and offers solution-oriented insights geared toward transforming our companies and communities through authenticity, connection, and joy – the laughter on our call was contagious!
As she says, Ms. Brown has the “unmitigated gall to believe humanity can be better,” drawing on her experience as an organizer and Black feminist thought leader to invite us to close our eyes and envision the future, and specifically the democracy, that we deserve. Ms. Brown compels us to consider the current, defining moment in our nation’s history and to reclaim our humanity – focus on the message we’re trying to share, calling one another in, and trusting that, as she affirms, “our greatest resource is each other.” A gifted and one-of-a-kind orator, Ms. Brown thoughtfully tailors each event, working with clients to understand what their unique audiences need to ensure the biggest impact possible. Our team described the resounding message of connection as “spirit-lifting” and “amazing!” As she closed with a rendition of ‘This Little Light of Mine’, positivity erupted in our office, with folks jumping out of their seats to talk about what an impactful conversation Ms. Brown started that is sure to reverberate long after our memorable event.
Case Study: LaTosha Brown speaks to a captivated audience at William Paterson University
Co-founder of Black Voters Matter, national organizer, political strategist, and fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, LATOSHA BROWN spoke to students, faculty, and staff at William Paterson University, delivering her 40 minute keynote “Protecting The Crown: Breaking Generational Curses," followed by a 30 minute Q&A. She is also an accomplished singer and full of electrifying energy, and seamlessly transitioned from spiritual song into her remarks. Eloquent and knowledgeable, Brown held the audience in the palm of her hand as she spoke, and evoked a powerful visualization of the students as the future of America. Brown spoke on her recent work and the current national conversation, and inspired students to redefine and protect the crown of Black identity, family, culture, and more. She received many rave reviews from the community for her captivating speech: “Amazing! We need to bring her back again!,” “Definitely loved her message and her exchange with students!,” and “LaTosha Brown was fire...great start to the month.”
LaTosha Brown, who was recently tapped to develop the Harvard Kennedy School’s “Combating Racism” school-wide initiative, is the grassroots organizer, educator, and speaker all audiences love!
You cannot turn on the TV without seeing LATOSHA BROWN speaking about the work she’s doing to advance racial justice and political power for marginalized people. Her organization, Black Voters Matter works to activate progressive power in the rural south. In a letter entitled “Combatting Racism”, the Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School outlined steps the graduate school will take to address this political moment, shift practices within the school, and expand offerings to students around racial justice. Fellow at the Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership, the Kennedy School Institute of Politics (IOP), Kennedy School Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP) and the Kennedy School Hauser Institute for Civil Society, Brown will help launch “Teach-in Summer” — a summer of listening, learning, and galvanizing our community to action.
Asked to speak on the recent election and current political and social climate, Brown has appeared on CNN, CBS News, MSNBC, Pod Save America, and countless other outlets. Organizations rave, “I just wanted to say, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! She was phenomenal!!! LATOSHA BROWN FOR PRESIDENT! She came onto the stage singing with that powerful voice of hers and it set the tone for one of the most powerful messages that we have heard in a long time.” (Rowan University)
LaTosha Brown Activates Voters Everywhere to Take Claim of the Most Important Role of Our Democracy—The Role of Citizen
America’s political landscape is shifting in both the global and domestic arenas and in her talk, How to Make a Voter: Creating Engaged and Informed Citizens of Democracy, LATOSHA BROWN addresses the ways that disengagement threatens the foundations of this country. She empowers audiences to acknowledge and call out what we are witnessing: the shifting of the perception and function of the Executive Branch; the increasing over-reach of Presidential powers; the politicization of the Supreme Court; the intentional reduction of the role of federal agencies in state oversight; an increased polarized Congress based along party lines; and the stacking of the federal courts with conservative judges.
Brown also highlights that we are bearing witness to implementation of deeply troubling policies, state sanctioned acts and legislation that impact the civil and human rights of immigrant groups, women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. Despite these political changes, she reminds us to ask ourselves the critical questions: 1.) How do we implement innovative practices and new political organizing models to reverse this trend? 2.) How do we reinforce and expand America’s commitment to democracy? 3) How do we inspire, engage and motivate American citizens to participate in the political process?
Best known for her unique ability to Activating Progressive Power from the Ground Up, Brown is a Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government Fellow and co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund, a power-building southern-based civic engagement organization that played an instrumental role in the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate race, Brown makes clear that she is a committed voice on the grassroot level working with people everywhere to reclaim their power to influence local and national elections. Throughout her career, Ms. Brown has distinguished herself as a trusted expert and resource in political strategy, rural development and special programming for a number of national and regional philanthropies.
Co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, jazz singer, and fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government
LaTosha Brown is an award-winning community organizer, philanthropic consultant, jazz singer and political strategist with over twenty years of experience working in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors on a wide variety of issues related to social justice, economic development, leadership development, wealth creation and civil rights.
She is the co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, a power building southern based civic engagement organization that played an instrumental role in the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate race.
Ms. Brown is also principal owner of TruthSpeaks Consulting, Inc., a professional facilitation and philanthropy advisory consulting business based in Atlanta, GA. For more than 25 years, she has served as a consultant and advisor for individual donors, various public foundations and private donors. Former Director of a funder working group of Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG). GSP is comprised of Southern and national funders committed to improving the outcomes, conditions, and opportunities for those who are least well off socially, economically, and politically in the South.
She is a founding member of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health and also served as fund’s first Executive Director. Under her leadership the Gulf Coast Fund gained national recognition, created strategic national partnerships and distributed over $6 million in re-granting dollars for community and coastal organizations in the gulf coast region.
Throughout her career, Ms. Brown has distinguished herself as a trusted expert and resource in community organizing, rural development and special programming for a number of national and regional philanthropies. She has consulted and advised foundations such as the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the Black Belt Community Foundation, Friends of New Orleans, New World Foundation, Open Society Institute, Surdna Foundation, Community Foundation of South Alabama, Clinton Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, Ibis Partners Investment Group and the Tides Foundation to name a few.
As a native of Alabama, Ms. Brown has dedicated her life’s work towards organizing resources and supporting the development of community-based institutions in the South, particularly in the Black Belt and Gulf Coast regions. She has also worked as a trainer, speaker and facilitator in the international arena. She has traveled and/or presented to more than 23 countries abroad. She is currently working with the Guyanese Black Women’s Roundtable on a project that will provide training and increase funding and investment opportunities for women led institutions based in Guyana, South America.
Ms. Brown is a well-respected leader that has led numerous initiatives, campaigns and special projects to empower marginalized communities in the South. She is the founder of Saving OurSelves Coalition, a community-led disaster relief organization that helped hundreds of families in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Southern Black Women Organizing Project that works to strengthen the network of Black women grassroots leaders in the South. She also currently serves as a board member for the National Coalition on Black Civic Engagement and the Southern Documentary Fund and is an active member of several national and international organizations.
She is the recipient of several national awards including the 2006 Redbook Magazine Spirit and Strength Award, 2007 Spirit of Democracy Award from the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, the Louis E. Burnham Award for Human Rights, the 2008 Emory Business School MLK Service Award, 2010 Audubon Award, the 2011 White House Champion of Change Award, and most recently the 2020 Breakthrough Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership from the Philanthropy Women magazine. Ms. Brown currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.