Iron County Progressive

Weekly News from Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair

Today is Juneteenth. It's a celebration marking the day in 1865 that the news of the civil war's end reached the last group of enslaved Americans, in Galveston, Texas—two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

It's a celebration of liberation through struggle. And it's a reminder that even the most hard-fought victories—especially for equal rights for Black Americans—don't result in instant change on the ground, and that the work of pursuing a more perfect union is the labor of a lifetime.

Wisconsin is no stranger to justice deferred. 

In 1849, a majority of Wisconsin  voters supported a referendum for Black male suffrage—but an even larger number of voters abstained, and the state Board of Canvassers wrongfully declared the abstentions to count as "no" votes. For 17 subsequent years, as Professor Christy Clark-Pujara has documented, Black Wisconsinites were denied the ballot. Debate raged, and white voters rejected extending suffrage in two more referenda. Finally, in 1866, Wisconsin's Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ezekiel Gillespie, a Black Wisconsinite who had attempted to vote—and affirmed that the referendum 17 years prior had, in fact, passed.

Those years of struggle, protest, organizing, and litigation ground us in the work to come today, as we recommit ourselves, across race, to correcting the systemic injustices and that make Wisconsin one of the hardest states in the country for Black people to live.

This year, for the first time, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is joining the growing ranks of organizations and companies that are taking Juneteenth as a holiday, and sharing this list of Black Live Matter events in our state—including a slew of Juneteenth celebrations.

Each year, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas introduces a House resolution to recognize the observance of Juneteenth—co-sponsored by all three of Wisconsin's Democratic members of Congress, Reps. Moore, Kind, and Pocan, but none of the Republicans. And this year, Rep. Jackson-Lee plans to go a step further and propose making Juneteenth a national holiday. If you want to weigh in on that conversation, the Congressional hotline is 202-224-3121.

Today, let's celebrate. And, because #BlackLivesMatter, let's keep stepping up the fight for liberty and justice for all.


FIGHT on the Issues & FIGHT to Win

Coronavirus: Protecting Our Communities & Staying Safe

Thanks to Governor Evers's leadership, Wisconsin has made enormous progress in controlling the coronavirus pandemic—even while other states that prematurely reopened are struggling with exploding infection rates.

DPW is committed to doing our part to keep our state safe. We are in regular touch with experts and health officials to benefit from the most up-to-date guidance. Accordingly, we have committed to keeping our offices closed statewide until at least July 13. During this time, we'll continue our vital work virtually. An emerging body of evidence also strongly supports wearing masks, so if you're attending outdoor events, please bring your mask and sanitizer with you.

The first-ever virtual state convention

Our very first virtual Democratic State Convention was last Friday and went off with resounding success. Democrats from across the state celebrated our party’s accomplishments and looked forward to our successes in the coming months. Party members showed a true sense of unity, coming together to meet in this moment and rally, and touching on the fight for justice across the country, sparked by the murder of George Floyd. The stakes of our work have never been greater, but our ability to meet the challenge of our time has never been stronger.

Wisconsin will decide the course of human history this year, and as our presumptive nominee, Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday, “We have to work harder than we ever have. We have to stand up as a nation... come together as one America, to deliver justice for all Americans… The very soul of America is at stake.”

Victory for DREAMers: DACA decision

Yesterday's Supreme Court decision protecting DREAMers from deportation by the Trump administration is a victory for the more than 6,000 Wisconsinites who are protected by DACA and all of us who cherish them as our fellow citizens. These DREAMers are our neighbors who have made countless contributions to our community and continue to inspire us with their strength and commitment to making Wisconsin a better place to live. We’re grateful for the thousands of DREAMers and Black and brown activists who have organized and fought for equity and justice for immigrants across the country. We celebrate today’s victory, but there is no doubt that Trump will continue his xenophobic and racist attacks against our immigrant communities. The work of creating pathways to citizenship and protecting undocumented families continues this November. DACA will be on the ballot again, and it falls upon all of us to vote for Joe Biden and Democrats who will whole-heartedly protect our fellow Americans.

GOP threatens voting rights; Democrats champion them

DPW and its partners are continuing to fight to expand voting rights and ensure a free and fair election in November. Unfortunately, instead of coming up with solutions in a time of unrest and uncertainty, Republicans are trying to make it a felony to assist voters in returning absentee ballots. GOP legislators also tried to stop the Elections Commission from mailing absentee ballot requests. Make no mistake -- Republicans will do anything to make it hard for Wisconsinites to exercise their right to vote.

Meanwhile, Democrats and our partners in the community are fighting in court to hire more poll workers, send out absentee ballots, and institute a host of other changes to hold a fair election in November. Last week, Milwaukee's Common Council approved a plan for early voting locations, doubling the number from 8 to 16; an important step toward improving the infrastructure of democracy in Wisconsin. Republicans clearly think that their only chance to win the election is to ruthlessly suppress the vote. DPW believes that the right to vote is one of the most sacred tenets of our democracy and will continue to fight to make sure that our neighbors can exercise that right in November.

An economy that works for everyone

Chair Ben Wikler interviewed Sen. Tammy Baldwin this week about the Supreme Court decision barring discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers, the inspiring protests across the country sparked by the murder of George Floyd, and the state of Wisconsin’s economy under Trump. Sen. Baldwin is doing vital work in the Senate to ensure that our government supports the hard working Wisconsinites that have been left behind by this administration, and that it doesn’t just favor the wealthy corporations that have Trump in their pocket.


Wisconsin Pride and a Supreme Court victory

This week, in a landmark 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that employers in the United States cannot discriminate against LGBTQ+ employees. This decision is a step forward for LGBTQ+ equality in America, as we march toward a more just society for LGBTQ+ Americans in all aspects, from housing to health care.

We have a lot more work to do, but this is certainly a moment to celebrate. No one should have to fear being fired because of who they are, and here in Wisconsin, we recognize that our diversity makes us stronger, which is why we were 7 years ahead of any other state when in 1982, we passed laws making it illegal to discriminate based on sexuality in matters of employment and housing. 40 years later, the Supreme Court has finally made that the law of the country. This is why we lead with our values and fight for justice.

Raising the Juneteenth flag over the capitol

Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes announced this week that for the first time in Wisconsin’s history, the Juneteenth Flag will fly over the State Capitol building. Milwaukee City Hall will also be flying the Juneteenth Flag for the first time in history, and are pushing to recognize the day as a federal holiday.

The flag is an important recognition of the atrocities of the United States’ past -- including the original sin of slavery, the institutional oppression that exists today, and a reminder of the hope this moment in history presents. As the flag ascends over the East Wing of the State Capitol, we must commit to moving beyond symbolic gestures and creating change that fulfills the promise of our nation’s founding and promotes justice as the centerpiece of our ideals.

Reflect on our shared history and join some of the Juneteenth events happening around Wisconsin HERE.

#BlackLivesMatter: health care justice now

In Madison, White Coats for Black Lives and community groups like Urban Triage and Freedom Inc did incredible organizing, marching from the Capitol last week to demand that the disparities in health between white and Black Wisconsinites be addressed. Wisconsin’s Chief Medical Officer, Ryan Westergaard, also spoke out about the public health crisis of racism. Here in Wisconsin, Black babies are more likely to die before the age of one than in any other state in the country. This is a disgrace. Protestors made it clear that systemic racism in our society touches every aspect of Black lives, starting from birth and every other interaction with a racist health care system after that. We will not achieve intersectional justice in our state until these fatal inequities are meaningfully addressed.