December Reflections to Close Out 2020


Resistance Revival Chorus VT shared two beautiful performances for our 2020 Membership Assembly.

RAD Leaders in Action

For this month’s leaders we’re honoring our newly elected 2021 Board of Directors! At our annual Membership Assembly on December 5th, more than 100 members were able to participate in this important process, and this year’s vote was our most competitive to date. Meet the new Board members!

Jo Sabel Courtney, VT
Jubilee McGill, VT
Barbara Wilson, VT
Jeetan Khadka, VT
Eric Rasmussen, NH
Ed Taylor, NH
Andru Volinsky, NH
Sherry Frost, NH
Alyssa Brown, At-Large


Join us on January 14th for the launch of NH Renews! We’ll be joined by national leaders, new hampshire activists, and NH’s leading social justice organizations, labor unions, and environmental advocates fighting for a statewide Jobs Guarantee to tackle mass unemployment, economic and racial inequality, the coronavirus pandemic, and climate change!

Register here!

The Movement Politics Show

We united some of the people who helped start RAD to share where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re headed, 5 years in. Watch the talk here!

In Case You Missed It…

Linda Sarsour and Jennifer Epps-Addison years ago with RAD’s own James Haslam, via RAD VT Instagram

Resistance Revival Chorus for our 2020 Human Rights Awards, via RAD NH Instagram

The 2020 Human Rights Awards winners, via RAD VT Instagram

Power Workshop to Tackle Islamaphobia, led by RAD NH Movement Politics Director Asma Elhuni, via RAD NH Instagram.

Tig Notaro uplifted The People’s Bailout rally, emceed by our own Kiah Morris, via RAD VT Twitter

Uplifting our BLM NH 2020 Human Rights Awardees, via RAD Institute Twitter

We made it! December is here at last.

In January, everyone sensed we were embarking on one of our most critical years as an organization. After years of preparation and countless hours spent by organizers, members, and volunteers, we were watching the fruits of our movement enact change across Vermont and New Hampshire. We had no idea at the time just how much our common interest in fighting for greater rights and democracy in our communities would help us this year.

As you know, the pandemic changed almost everything. Waves of uncertainty, change, and loss washed over each and every one of us, and we had to learn how to adapt to our new circumstances. The needs of our communities changed. We changed.

Looking back on the year, we all lost something. We’re taking time to honor and heal from these losses, and we hope you are able to find peace in this season too.

In our reflections on this year, we find a common thread: hope for a brighter future, one informed by our past, so it never bears repeating. It connects every person in this movement. Our members threw down hard in our state elections for every endorsed candidate so they could win their seat and lead their communities. Our organizers shifted their entire organizing model from in person to remote, and our field team joined a national push to call and turn out voters across the country. We welcomed our first Movement Politics Directors, Kiah Morris and Asma Elhuni. We helped launch one of the greatest grassroots coalitions for a just and equitable future, Renew New England.

So at the end of this year, one emotion eclipses all others: gratitude. Thank you to each and every one of you who contributed to our movement, whether you donated, volunteered, made calls, voted, learned, or even just read this newsletter. We’ll say it again and again: thank you.

In the early days of RAD, we adopted the motto “Together We Win”. This year, more than ever, that proved to be so true.

Happy holidays, from the bottom of our hearts.

All of us at Rights & Democracy

2020 Membership Assembly

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib delivered powerful remarks as our keynote speaker, reminding us all how important it is to hold the incoming administration accountable to its promises and push for real relief and transformational change that addresses the scale of suffering in communities across the country.

We held three workshops: the Movement Politics Summit, Building Grassroots Organizing, and Storytelling and Narrative Power. Attorney, author, former political candidate, and Professor of Law Zephyr Teachout was a special guest at the Movement Politics Summit!

Sam Nelis of Barr Hill Distillery offered a live demonstration of how to make the delicious “Hive Mind” drink – we highly recommend trying this recipe if you haven’t yet! Download your own beautiful recipe card.

We honored longtime NH Legislator Martha Fuller Clark, who used her remarks to call us into the continued work that needs to happen in the Granite State to build equitable and just communities.

Jennifer Epps-Addison and Linda Sarsour helped close out our day, inviting us to imagine the world we want and need, and keep organizing for the steps we need to take to get us there. You can watch their full talk here.

In the Lakes Region, we have launched petitions demanding the resignation of State Rep. Dawn Johnson from both her State House seat and her role as a Laconia School Board Member.

Johnson promoted racist, anti-Semitic content in a since-deleted post. Read more of the state-wide coverage by the Concord Monitor here.

We’re encouraging everyone to sign the petition now to stand in solidarity with our community members in the Lakes Region demand Johnson resign as State Rep. and resign as a member of the School Board.

At the Membership Assembly, RAD staff presented the Renew framework focus areas we are planning to move forward in 2021, including pieces around food justice, housing and energy justice, and green justice zones.

If you are interested in learning more about the Renew New England Alliance and policy framework, you can sign up to join our Renew Leadership Team.

RDI’s 2020 Human Rights Awards Celebration

On Thursday, December 10th, Rights & Democracy Institute held our annual Human Rights Awards to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by honoring leaders in Vermont, New Hampshire and beyond, whose work advances human rights and strengthens the foundations of our democracy.

We were joined by Alicia Garza, Principal of the Black Futures Lab, political strategist, and author of the new book, The Purpose of Power, George Goehl, Executive Director of People’s Action. You can watch their full conversation with Cathy Albisa, VP of Institutional and Sectoral Change at Race Forward and Board Member of the Board for Rights & Democracy Institute. The evening also included two special performances by Resistance Revival Chorus Vermont.

Our full list of awardees for 2020 are:

Tabitha Moore, Chapter President, Rutland Area NAACP (VT)
Steffen Gillom, Chapter President, Windham County NAACP (VT)
Vickie Lampron, Green Mountain Mask Makers (VT)
Jordan Thompson, BLM Nashua (NH)
Erika Perez, BLM Manchester (NH)
Tanisha Johnson, BLM Seacoast (NH)
Rebecca Dixon, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project
Sarah Jaynes, Director, Rural Democracy Initiative

As we near the holiday break, we recognize that there are still so many of us in need of relief. We need a People’s Bailout NOW to save lives and chart a path towards a more equitable future through a just recovery from COVID. Our own Kiah Morris emceed this incredible event featuring Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D, NY-7), special musical guest Meah Pace and grassroots leaders from around the country.