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Alabama Forward and Civic TN Join the Network!

July 22, 2022

On the first day of Black History Month, our network has an exciting announcement to share. Two incredible Black-led organizations — Alabama Forward and CivicTN — have joined the State Voices Affiliated Network as our newest State Tables!

Organizations like Alabama Forward and CivicTN continue the legacy of Black-led organizing and freedom fighting, especially in the South. Building solidarity with Southern organizers and communities is fundamental to systemic transformation to achieve racial, social, and economic justice for all. For too long national organizations have ignored Southern political power in the face of widespread oppression.

The demand for freedom and democracy throughout the South is high. Alabama is one of the 11 states where there is no vote-by-mail option, further suppressing Black voters. Tennessee advocates are currently combatting racist redistricting maps that would dilute Black voices.

Hear directly from Evan Milligan, Executive Director of Alabama Forward, and Matia Powell, Executive Director of CivicTN, about how these two incredible State Tables are fighting for freedom and democracy.


Alabama Forward

What’s Alabama Forward’s story?

Alabama Forward is a state-based 501(C)(3) civic engagement coordinating table committed to advancing movement towards greater freedom and progressive, solution-oriented policy among a diverse coalition of Alabama-based partner organizations, so that every Alabamian can engage in the democratic process. Alabama Forward prioritizes race and gender equity to engage every Alabamian in all aspects of our democracy.

Alabama Forward will spend the next 20 years working to support pro-democracy civic identities and traditions here in Alabama. We are clear eyed about the amount of work this will involve. We will spend 2022 assessing the baseline strength of our member organizations, and we’ll also be working as a coalition to make contact with at least 100,000 nonwhite voters in Alabama through voter registration, training, and distribution of original content.

How does it feel to be a part of the State Voices Affiliated Network?

As an emerging civic engagement table, Alabama Forward has benefited from the social connections, trainings, tools, and convenings facilitated by State Voices. We’re excited to now be an official State Table! When we were founded in October 2020, State Voices staff quickly introduced us to table leaders working in our neighboring states and those working as far away as Washington state. Their staff were constantly introducing us to the language, organizations, and tools we needed to effectively function as an organization that adds value to its member groups.

This pattern continued throughout 2021, particularly as our member organizations became more involved in local and state redistricting efforts. We also benefited from access to data trainings and workshops focusing on digital canvassing tools.

The State Voices staff organized an incredible annual conference that provided personal inspiration and skills training to Alabama Forward staff and members, as well as opportunities to strengthen relationships with our counterparts working around the country. We were also encouraged to see a network centering its commitment to race equity in a manner that we also aspire to model. The State Voices Affiliated Network has been a consistent source of knowledge and community, and we look forward to the extension of this fruitful relationship into 2022 and beyond.



What’s CivicTN’s story?

Over the past decade, lawmakers have utilized the instrument of the state to dissect, divert, and dissuade people from accessing the ballot box. Leaving communities – especially BIPOC communities – feeling disillusioned and disenfranchised. Civic TN and our coalition members are committed to helping communities claim their power. We are working to rebalance this state, to restore that basic tenet of democracy that the people should choose their leaders, not the leaders choose their people.

At this very moment, lawmakers are approving district maps that destroy the influence that voters of color have on who represents them. This year, we will be fighting those maps all while building a robust voter registration program and turning out voters in local, state, and national elections. ALL Tennesseans deserve representation and we will not stop until we get it.

How does it feel to be a part of the State Voices Affiliated Network?

We are thrilled to join the State Voices Network and have the opportunity to learn, grow, and commiserate with people from all across the country fighting to realize the democracy that this nation was founded on but has not yet fully realized.

Throughout history, Black-led collectives and organizations have led critical battles against white supremacy and for democracy and freedom. From the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s sit-ins and voter registration projects in the 1960s, to the 2020 summer of nationwide uprisings against state sanctioned violence, the practice of Black radical organizing traditions and collective action reveal our power to create the multiracial democracy we deserve.

State Tables like Alabama Forward and CivicTN are furthering their legacies. State Voices has been supporting the growth of both tables since 2016. Their growth to becoming State Tables in our network illustrates the power of long-term power and infrastructure in the movement for democracy.

Alabama Forward and CivicTN join our other 22 State Tables toward a common goal: using data and technology, people-powered campaigns, and coalitions to collectively build a multiracial democracy that allows everyone to thrive and live in their full dignity.

There is so much power in our numbers and in the depths of relationships we have with other advocates, organizers, and freedom fighters in the pursuit of healthy democracy. With State Tables like Alabama Forward and CivicTN—and their incredible partners on the ground—we have what it takes to win.