By KITTY DOUGLAS | BIGTENTUSA
Democracy Centers are literally saving democracy. But what are Democracy Centers really?
Democracy Centers are located in BIPOC communities where more than 55% of eligible voters no longer choose to vote. These communities are often rural and identifiable by certain common characteristics, such as high levels of race-based concentrated poverty, lower social mobility, higher rates of environmental pollution and restrictive voter suppression laws. The phrase, “My vote doesn’t matter” reflects frustration with the lack of improvement in community pain points regardless of who is elected.
A Democracy Center is a local resource that supports ongoing, year-round, civic engagement to achieve meaningful progress on issues of importance in underserved communities of color where the ill effects of historic systemic racism are deeply entrenched and oppressive.
Through a program of the Center for Common Ground, Democracy Centers leverage the on-the-ground expertise and trusted relationships of community-based organizations with a successful track record of civil rights protection and advocacy, civic engagement, community building and development, election protection, voter registration, and other activities that support the basic tenets of our democracy in underserved communities.
Center for Common Ground provides needed infrastructure, training and digital tools to empower communities. Citizens need a place to gather, learn about national, state and local policy/politics so they can make educated decisions about their leaders and how to make change on every level.
People want to know what they can do to create the change they want to see in their community and they want to do it themselves. They need expertise, training, technology and tools that will empower them to exercise their rights as citizens. This change can’t come from outside; it can only happen from within.
Democracy Center Engagement
Once the Center for Common Ground has agreed with local community leaders to establish a Democracy Center with them, they’ll work together to:
Center for Common Ground provides:
The Center operates Democracy Centers in the states of Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama.
Currently the Centers are focusing on Virginia in the following communities: