Defenders of Democracy

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    Today we salute the defenders of democracy: voting rights advocates, publc servants, elected officials, artists, and champions of the right of every American citizen to exercise their power through voting, and to raise their voices to protest injustice.

Day 4 - D is for Defenders of Democracy

Hiram Rhodes Revels (1827-1901), U.S. Senate

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    A freeman his entire life, Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress, being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1870, representing Mississippi. Hiram Rhodes Revels was born to free parents in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on September 27, 1827. An ordained minister, he entered politics reluctantly, fearing racial friction and interference with his religious work, but he quickly won over blacks and whites with his moderate and compassionate political opinions. “The colored race can be built up and assisted … in acquiring property, in becoming intelligent, valuable, useful citizens, without one hair upon the head of any white man being harmed.”

Kamala Harris, U.S. Vice President

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    On November 3, 2020, 81 million people voted to elect the first Black and Asian Woman to the Vice Presidency of the United States. Born in Oakland, CA and raised in Berkeley, this graduate of Howard University, a Black institution, and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first Black sorority, made history in many ways. Ruby Bridges walked. Kamala ran. People voted. Democracy worked. Visit Madame Vice President at


Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

  • The SNCC, or Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, was a civil-rights group formed to give younger Black people more of a voice in the civil rights movement. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee also directed much of the Black voter registration drives in the South. Three of its members died at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan during the Missisissippi Freedom Sumer of 1964. In 1966, Stokely Carmichael was elected head of SNCC and popularized the term “Black power” to characterize the new tactics and goals—including Black self-reliance and the use of violence as a legitimate means of self-defense. But the fires and disorders that followed in the summer of 1967 contributed to the disbanding of SNCC shortly thereafter.

Stacey Abrams

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    Stacey Abrams is a political leader, voting rights activist and New York Times bestselling author. After serving for eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as Democratic Leader, in 2018, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, winning at the time more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history. Abrams was the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States, "And if we want them to take their power, we’ve got to talk to them about power. No euphemisms about “you should vote because someone died”; you need to vote so we can live. That is our responsibility. That is our opportunity, and that is our obligation. That should be the message."

Langston Hughes, "I, Too"

Hear Hughes recite his 1926 poem that speaks of yearning for a seat at the table, for inclusion, for recognition of the beauty and humanity of Black people.
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Gil Scott-Heron

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," was released in 1970. The song is a searing social commentary on America's political culture, and a precursor to modern hip hop.

Register to Vote

  • John Lewis (1940-2020), Congressman and Civil Rights icon. In 1963, Lewis became chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. That same year, as one of the "Big Six" leaders of the civil rights movement, he helped plan the March on Washington. Lewis — the youngest speaker at the event — delivered a powerful oration that declared, "We all recognize the fact that if any radical social, political and economic changes are to take place in our society, the people, the masses, must bring them about." In 1970, he became director of the Voter Education Project and helped to register millions of minority voters. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1986, representing Georgia, and continued the fight for civil rights until his death.



    Register to Vote in CA


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