How I Told My Elected Officials to Respect My Vote and My Children’s Education

I live in Arkansas, where my lawmakers are currently trying to pass regressive and reactionary bills that will harm the future of public education for Arkansans. The two bills, HB1218 and HB1231, would allow state funding to be restricted from going to schools with certain courses, events, or activities dealing with race, gender, and other social groups. The legislation would also prevent teaching accurate history, particularly about the contributions of and abuses of Black people. The sponsor of these two bills, Rep. Mark Lowery, claims that discussions of white supremacy are too divisive and that talking about privilege and oppression would embarrass white students. Arkansans deserve to be taught the truth about history. Powerful stories from the past can drastically change the future. The Andrew Goodman Foundation knows the importance of acknowledging powerful stories. 

The Andrew Goodman Foundation was established after Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, three young men—two Jewish and one Black—were brutally murdered by the Ku Klux Klan for their attempts to ensure that our democracy could be equitably accessed by Black Americans in the deep South. We continue their legacy by empowering young voters, particularly Black students and other targeted populations, with strategies to overcome barriers to voting. We also utilize technology to educate, train, and mobilize young leaders across the country to stay civically engaged in their local communities. One of those technologies is a targeted action campaign called Respect My Vote. This easy-to-use tool puts people in direct contact with their elected officials in order to hold them accountable. When I learned about the regressive bills that my elected officials were trying to pass, I immediately used the Respect My Vote campaign to make my voice heard.

The Arkansas community is incredibly diverse, and that’s where our strength comes from. We deserve an education system that reflects our diverse community and allows critical race theory to be used when examining moments in our history. As a parent to children who are in the Arkansas public school system, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of stopping these two bills. The next generation of leaders deserves to know the true history of this country. The classroom should be a place where we help to foster creative and critical thinking skills through discourse and examination of controversial and hard topics. Schools should not be punished for creating those spaces. 

The Respect My Vote campaign helped streamline the often daunting process of getting in contact with my elected officials. I used this tool as a way to advocate for myself, my family, and my community. I used it as a way to make my voice heard in a powerful and direct way. I encourage you to make your voice heard, too. Our jobs as voters didn’t end on Election Day. We have to stay engaged in our local communities and our local elections. There are no “off years” in civic engagement. We must continue to make our voices heard in every election, every time. We must demand that our elected officials respect our vote. Contact yours today.

 About The Author

Mo Banks is the Digital Marketing Manager at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. They currently live in Arkansas with their wife and 4 kids, where they’ve been working as a digital organizer for the past 3 years.