The following meeting information concerning state-wide and area news, events, and activities is updated at the beginning of each calendar month. Please check with the originating organization because of likely cancellations or changes since they were originally posted here. See Local News for non-CCSJ events and activities organized and/or occurring in the Morgantown area.
We have received a report from the WVU School of Public Health. This report, the thirteenth edition of the State of Working West Virginia, comes at a time when national attention has once again been drawn to the issue of racism and racial inequality. It is also the 10-year anniversary of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy’s report “Legacy of Inequality,” which chronicled the experiences and history of Black West Virginians, and analyzed the data showing the inequities that have always been and continue to be central to that experience. 10 years ago, the Legacy of Inequality report showed that systemic racism had led to persistent racial inequality here in West Virginia. This report displays that the effects of systemic racism continue to harm our Black communities today. Click on this link to download the PDF.
KANAWHA VALLEY NOW CHAPTER
Information about the Kanawha Valley NOW chapter is available here at their Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a new “Name and Gender Change Guide for West Virginia Residents” available here.
WEST VIRGINIA NOW
West Virginia NOW has a Facebook page and a web page.
“West Virginia NOW is the state chapter of the National Organization for Women, the country’s largest feminist political organization. As a grassroots nonprofit volunteer organization, WVNOW has a dual focus of supporting local chapters, as well as maintaining a strong legislative presence.
“WVNOW members are committed to fostering a unified intersectional, multigenerational feminist future for West Virginia.”
ACLU West Virginia announces West Virginia Criminal Law Reform Coalition
According to the ACLU web site, “A coalition of organizations working to reform West Virginia’s outdated, costly, and ineffective system of criminal laws is optimistic for the possibility of continued bipartisan cooperation ahead of the 2021 Legislative Session.
“The West Virginia Criminal Law Reform Coalition has also launched a new website that will serve as a hub for the many ongoing reform efforts. The website will provide in-depth information on key policy proposals in addition to other tools like a blog section, volunteer sign-up and a policy simulator that will help visitors see just how much money could be saved by reducing incarceration.
“’During what is a deeply divisive time in our country, criminal law reform is one issue that both sides of the political spectrum agree can have a positive impact,’ said Lida Shepherd, co-director American Friends Service Committee, WV Economic Justice Project (AFSC). ‘We hope this new website will be a useful resource for people, including lawmakers and the public, to get informed and especially get involved in the movement for criminal law reform.’
“Lawmakers enacted an historic number of reform bills in 2020. The ten bills passed in this year’s legislative session will help make West Virginia’s criminal laws more humane and less burdensome to taxpayers, said Eli Baumwell, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV)
"’West Virginia is finally waking up to the reality of our criminal system,’ Baumwell said. ‘With bipartisan support in the Legislature and a growing coalition of activists and organizations, this platform will serve as the hub for much-needed reform efforts.’
“Now more than ever, policymakers must focus on decreasing the number of people in West Virginia’s crowded incarceration facilities, said Greg Whittington, president of the WV Family of Convicted People (WVFCP).
“’Most of the people sitting in our jails have not been found guilty of any crime,’ Whittington said. ‘They are in jail because they are too poor to purchase their freedom as they await trial. Because it is impossible to adhere to social distancing guidelines in these facilities, we have seen simple misdemeanor charges become death sentences.’
“The Rev. Jeff Allen, executive director of the West Virginia Council of Churches (WVCC), said: ‘We are excited about this initiative that will look for ways to help make the criminal justice system in West Virginia fairer, more just, and redemptive.’
“Quenton King, criminal justice policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (WVCBP), said: ‘The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is proud to be a founding partner of the West Virginia Criminal Law Reform Coalition. The advocacy and research of the coalition is a long-overdue step toward shining light on the disparities and injustices that occur at all levels of our legal system.’
More information about this action is available here.
Fairness West Virginia announes leading equality cities: Huntington has again earned a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. Lewisburg and Wheeling improved their scores this year because they have openly LGBTQ people serving in elected or appointed roles. Charleston and Huntington are “All- Star” cities, with Charleston’s score at 91. For more information, please go here. Morgantown’s score was 77 – 3rd highest of the seven state cities scored.
Fairness is also offering free virtual training to be a better advocate for LBTQ people. “We're gearing up for a tough legislative fight. If we want to finally pass the Fairness Act, a statewide law in 2021 banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, we need your help. We need an engaged group of advocates across the state willing to step up and join the fight.
“Please join us for one of our three online advocacy webinars in the New Year. All you need to join us is a computer and a desire to make West Virginia a better place for LGBTQ people to live. Participants learn about the time-tested messaging you can use to persuade family and friends to support equality for all people. We'll equip you with the answers to difficult questions you might face, and expand the advocacy tools you have to make your voice heard at the capitol — even in the midst of a pandemic.
“We're offering three virtual training sessions this year over zoom: “Thursday, Jan. 14 at 6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 30 at 1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. “After signing up below, you will be sent a link to join the zoom meeting as the session you selected gets closer.” Registration is available here.