Midterm Elections: Resources for Alternate ROOTS Network

From ROOTS’ (Regional Organization of Theater South) founding at Highlander Research and Education Center in 1976, artists who were committed to justice, equity, and southern tradition remained to create what has evolved into Alternate ROOTS. As a coalition of cultural workers, we work for the elimination of all oppression through the creation and presentation of original art. Over four decades, ROOTS has become known for the strength of its membership who are embedded in community and creating work that strives for social change, individual and community transformation.

ROOTS has spent the past decade moving from service more fully into action, and we have partnered with advocacy groups drawing on the strength of our traditions in order to build people power. We have been building power to shift policy as well as culture with partners within the intersecting fields of arts and social justice, including: the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, First Peoples’ Fund, Media Action Grassroots Network, Performing Arts Alliance, Imagining America, Southern Movement Assembly, Arts in a Changing America, Rural Generation Work Group, Project South for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide, and the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture.

As a collective of artists and cultural organizers, ROOTS understands the limits of formal politics while also acknowledging their relationship to movements for change. We honor our tradition of fighting for voting and civil rights from the founding members’ generation’s work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to our continued work with advocacy partners in building people power today.

As one step toward developing our cultural policy strategy within ROOTS and sharing resources and information that we have gained through our partnerships, over the next few weeks, we will be sharing resources and information related to the upcoming midterm elections. Along with our advocacy partners, we are particularly concerned with voter suppression, purging, and disenfranchisement, along with a host of specific issues affecting our local communities throughout the region.

Based on members’ feedback, and acknowledging the overwhelming amount of information and resources out there, we want to share information with our members in variety of ways:

  • First, we will share some materials and resources related to the upcoming midterm elections in our member state region.
  • Second, we will uplift the work of members who are working to shift culture, local policies, and legislation.
  • Finally, we will identify some issue areas and stories that resonate with the values of ROOTS and the work members are engaging in the field.

To have deeper in person conversation regarding the political landscape in the South, join us at ROOTS Weekend Jackson, MS. Through the theme of RENEW!, we’re digging into the what it takes to envision and enact a true people’s democracy – one where active, creative community members work together, building collective strategies that allow equity and justice to thrive.

Resources for the Midterm Elections: Tuesday, November 6, 2018


Voter Registration

National voter registration day was Wednesday September 26. Many states — including Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas — require you to register 30 days before an election.

As a reminder, registration is still open in these states in our ROOTS region: Alabama (October 15), Georgia (October 5), Maryland (October 8), North Carolina (October 2), Virginia (October 5), West Virginia (October 5), and Washington, DC (October 8).

* You can register online in most states in our region, but by mail only in Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas.

American Civil Liberties Union’s Let People Vote Campaign

Check out the ACLU’s campaign and find out about local and state actions to counter voter suppression in your community.

Crescent City Media

Organizes events and shares information related to voter registration, policy issues, and constitutional amendments in Louisiana. Check out their Open Democracy Project and other advocacy tools.

Native Vote

The National Congress of American Indians and Native Rights Fund on the Native American Voting Rights Coalition. Check out their 2018 Native Vote Analysis of where native candidates are running and where native votes will have the greatest impact.  

Second Chances Florida

This advocacy group is working to restore voting rights to people with prior felony convictions. Florida is one of only four states with such a lifetime ban on voting, which affects millions.

Information on Issues

Americans for the Arts – Congressional Arts Handbook

This report contains senators’ and congress-persons’ voting records on support for the arts. You can also check out their Legislative Issues Center.

Campaign for Youth Justice Guide

CYJ has created this guide, shared by ROOTer Jeree Thomas, for advocates who want to hold candidates accountable on their youth justice positions.

Central Appalachia Regional Network (CARN)

Led a state-by-state policy scan and advocacy campaign in their regional service area on two “banner issues.” Check out their Policy Reports on telecommunications and local control of assets.

League of Women Voters’ Local Events and Guides

The LWV has chapters throughout our region, holds events, and produces voter guides on local, state, and national issues and candidates.

National Council of State Legislatures State-Tribal Laws Database

NCSC has created a database to track bills that are considered by state legislatures every year which can affect tribal communities. These bills address a variety of issues including the environment, health care, taxes, and education.

State Arts Agencies

Each state has a government agency that spends tax money on supporting the arts through grant making and funding. You can check out the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Reports to find out about current budgets and legislative previews for state funding of arts agencies.

Movement Building

Artist Campaign School

ROOTS has partnered with other arts and advocacy organizations to support artists who are interested running for office at the local, state, and national levels.

Black Futures Lab’s Black Census Project

As you may remember from speaking with Busi Peters-Maughan at ROOTS week, the Black Census asks Black communities what are the the key issues and about what needs to be done to address those issues, so that Black lives can change for the better.

Center for Media Justice’s Media Action Grassroots Network

MAG-Net is a local-to-local network of community organizations seeking media justice. Check out their Arts and Culture section as well as Actions that can be taken around policy change.

Movement 4 Black Lives Electoral Justice Project

Supporting Black organizations in our region and across the country working toward historic wins up and down the ballot this November. Also check out their platform and policy demands.

Performing Arts Alliance

PAA advocates for nonprofit arts organizatons, artsts, and their publics before U.S. Congress and key policy makers.  Alternate ROOTS is a member of the Alliance and holds a seat on the board.

Art X Culture X Social Justice Network

This network is based on the power of art and culture to advance social justice by inspiring collective action across identities  issues, sectors, geographies, and power imbalances. ROOTS is the fiscal sponsor of the network.

Project South

Project South is a Southern-based leadership development organization that creates spaces for movement building. They work with communities to strengthen leadership and to provide popular political and economic education for personal and social transformation and to engage in bottom-up movement building for social and economic justice.

Southern Movement Assembly

SMA is coordinating grassroots trainings, convenings, and actions to confront poverty, racism, and violence, and build political power. The Assembly is a movement governance process that is a combination of political education, discussion, planning, action, and synthesis.

Southern Rural Black Women’s Movement for Economic and Social Justice

SRBWI promotes a human rights agenda aimed at eradicating barriers faced by southern rural black women. Check out their Advocacy and Public Policy training held every summer in TN.

This is a next step in further developing the fullness of cultural policy and advocacy at ROOTS. To learn more about where we’re headed with Cultural Policy, click the link to our Cultural Policy Introduction. If you are interested in sharing resources or joining the Cultural Policy Work Group with fellow ROOTS members, please email Ashley Walden Davis at ashley@alternateroots.org.

Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in communities of place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression—everywhere.