Member spotlight: Cora Linehan on organizing in Delco
Cora Linehan started organizing in Delaware County during last years congressional primary.
While continuing to develop deep relationships in Delco this Spring, she was part of a group of Reclaim members who partnered with The Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration and Delco DSA to put on a judicial forum, similar to the one Reclaim was a part of in Philly.
We asked Cora what’s special about Delco and why she has high hopes for movement candidates there.
Why did you start organizing in Delco?
I met a bunch of people organizing around the congressional primary. One of the things that I found in Delaware County was that more Democrats than Republicans were registering, and it was starting to look like the county could flip.
When it does, what’s it going to look like? That’s not entirely clear. No one 100 percent knows. There’s something about that that is really exciting to me.
What should folks in Philly know about building relationships in Delaware County?
One of the things that I’m very conscious of, when it comes to building relationships with folks in Delaware County: if you play the Philly card really hard, and wave that in everybody’s faces, it doesn’t necessarily win you a lot of friends.
Even people from Delaware County who are progressive sometimes have a sense that people from Philly come down to Delco but don’t truly know what life is like for them because Philly is a Democratic city Delco is a long-time, predominantly Republican county.
Tell us about the judicial forum you played a role in organizing
We put on a judicial forum in Trainer, Pa in early May, partnering with Delco Coalition against Death by Incarceration and Delco DSA. People who have been directly affected by the justice system used the platform to speak, very powerfully, about their experiences, and put questions to the judges, very similar to the event Reclaim was a part of in Philly.
So we had 50 people in a room in the Church of the Overcomer in Trainor, Pa., and we had a few judges sitting at the front. They wanted to commit to as little as possible,
Meanwhile, people are pouring their hearts out. There was a woman talking about going to visit her nephew. She was an older woman talking about her fear that when she’s no longer alive to see him, no one will be connecting him to the outside world at all. There was a college student talking about her mother coming back from being incarcerated. She had been separated from her for 7 years, very formative teenage years.
They asked the judges what they were going to do to bolster family relationships, so the families don’t fall apart.
When judges tried to duck the question, people in the audience would speak up and say to the judges, “hey, why didn’t you answer her question?”
It was this unifying thing. It was really beautiful.