Everybody Counts!

by Karen Nelson

Five years ago, I marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with U. S. Congressman John Lewis for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma, Alabama.

Today, amidst a lot of pain and suffering, we must do everything possible for the protection of the unfortunate and weak in our community giving voice and power to those who have gone invisible for too long! We are at a tipping point. Grief, trauma, anger. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Anger is the language of the unheard.” Give people the space to feel it. This summer of 2020 was a time of mourning. Thanks to the organizers in Appleton, all the demonstrations here remain peaceful! Now, we need to pivot to purpose and action.

This is a huge year for civic participation and engagement! Despite COVID-19 presenting real challenges we need to do everything we can to protect our democracy. In my role as Vice-Chair of the Outagamie County Complete Count Committee, with Jerry Iverson, Chair, our effort to have a safe and accurate census count will help secure voting rights, fair and accessible elections, an independent judiciary, congressional apportionment, and state redistricting for the next ten years!

Everything we care about as Americans rises and falls on our ability to complete a safe and accurate census count: roads, bridges, infrastructure, gun safety, climate change, justice reform, immigrant rights, educational equity, economic security, and healthcare.

Everyone has a seat at the table by participating in the census! Historically undercounted populations are not hard to count. It just means we have to go the extra mile to find and reach them right where they are: people of color, children, immigrants, the homeless, and those on the other side of the digital divide.

Voter suppression and racial exclusion from civic participation is so American, that to speak up makes some people question that person’s patriotism! It’s time we demand our politicians, regardless of party, compete on a leveled playing field and win, not a gerry-rigged one. 72% of Wisconsin wants fair maps!

This is a watershed moment. The time is NOW! The deadline for Census 2020 has been cut short by a month. I am sounding the alarm, DO IT BY SEPTEMBER 15th! The final date is now September 30 (moved back from October 31). Get everyone you know to go to www.census2020.gov or call (844)330-2020. Also, register to vote at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/VoterRegistration. The fight continues. 

In 2013, the U. S. Supreme Court struck down the section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that required certain voter protections. The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), recently renamed in honor of the late Congressman John Lewis, if passed will restore and modernize the original protections. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is still not ratified. Stay woke! 

Let’s seize this seminal moment to finally change systemic racism to move us toward a more perfect Union because we are BETTER TOGETHER!

For More Information:

Dignity & Respect Campaign

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The City of Appleton’s official Diversity & Inclusion FaceBook page

The City of Appleton’s Website:

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