As we look ahead to 2024 and beyond, we’re excited to launch the Hopewatch blog as a place to foster connection and community, to share stories about people on the front lines of change in the Deep South, and – as the name suggests – to deepen our capacity for hope.
If you’re reading this post, I don’t need to tell you that this is an extraordinarily difficult time in our country. But I will share that at the Southern Poverty Law Center, we’re thinking a lot about what we can offer at this moment that will serve as an antidote to the fear and despair gripping so many of us.
The advocacy, the litigation, the organizing – all of that is essential work. But equally important to our mission is taking the time to remember why we do this work in the first place. How do we continually affirm each other’s humanity? How do we celebrate the incremental progress we are making? How do we insist on joy? How do we stay inspired?
Those are some of the questions that will drive our content for this blog, and I can’t wait for you to meet the people, community partners and projects the blog will feature. So much incredible work is happening on the ground in the Deep South, and I know you’ll be as inspired as I am to read about the everyday triumphs of human rights and the human spirit that motivate our work.
Consider last week’s election results out of Mississippi. State officials have tried in recent years to deny Mississippians – especially those who are Black and Brown – a voice in government and in shaping the state’s future. The state Legislature has passed bills to purge voter rolls, limit people’s ability to choose their own leaders and make it more difficult for elderly people and people with disabilities to vote by mail. The Mississippi Supreme Court also rescinded people’s right to put measures on statewide ballots after voters overwhelmingly supported a medical marijuana initiative.
Despite all that, a new majority is clearly emerging in the South – a majority who is ready to restore and expand the rights and opportunities so important to our communities. For example, this state with a deeply conservative reputation saw the most competitive gubernatorial race in decades with roughly 35,000 votes separating the candidates as of this writing.
It’s clear that voters of various political stripes in Mississippi, which has historically seen high rates of poverty while ranking at the bottom for various quality-of-life measures, are responding to messages about expanding health care access and combating corruption in a state that has been rocked by scandal within a social safety net program. It’s clear that voters laid a foundation for change.
As we enter the 2024 election year, the SPLC will do all we can to keep you informed about what your vote will mean for communities and how you can push for change across the South and beyond. This blog will be a home for those stories and more, so we hope you’ll check back often.
We’re glad you’re in this movement with us, and we look forward to continuing the conversation – about freedom, about hope, about our shared humanity – in the months ahead. This is just the beginning.
In the video: Margaret Huang, SPLC CEO and president, talks about the importance of voter education and participation.
Illustration at top by SPLC