21st Century Declaration of Rights for a Better America
Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech named racism, militarism and materialism as the deadly triplets afflicting America and called for a revolution of values in our society. Today “the fierce urgency of Now” is even more compelling with our most basic democratic institutions under attack.
We, the People, demand more than just holding ground. We dare to reimagine and fight for a 21st century revolution of values that can transform our country into a place of unprecedented prosperity and equality.
The Right to a Truly Representative Democracy for All
Vision: The elimination of corporate and large money donations from politics, and the protection and expansion of voting rights including universal automatic voter registration.
Steps: Reinvigorate the Voting Rights Act; make voting more accessible; end gerrymandering; make voting systems hack-proof and fully auditable; publicly fund primary & general elections; prohibit the revolving door between government employment and corporate lobbying.
The Abolition of Structural Racism
Vision: An end to the systems that perpetuate structural racism, including mass incarceration, economic disinvestment, and disparities in education, healthcare, and food access. Reparations to ethnic communities that have been exploited and disenfranchised by white supremacy.
Steps: Redistribute all public resources fairly; end gerrymandering; make massive public investments in poor communities of color; improve monitoring and redress of racist practices at all levels of government and in private enterprise.
The Abolition of All Forms of Discrimination and Oppression
Vision: Bodily autonomy regardless of gender identity and ability. Freedom from discrimination, abuse and harassment based on race, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, country of origin.
Steps: Enshrine the protections of the ADA in Federal and State Constitutions; strengthen laws and agencies that grant choice, autonomy and legal protection to people with disabilities; ensure protection of victims by reforming legal approach to sexual violence, ensure consent-focused sex education encompassing all sexual and gender identities.
The Right to Economic Justice
Vision: Shared prosperity, including universal living wages with pay equity addressing racial and gender disparity, hunger-free communities, and free childcare and kindergarten–college education. Guaranteed full employment with the federal government as the living wage employer of last resort.
Steps: Restructure tax codes to progressively tax income and wealth; increase the minimum wage to at least $15/hr; overturn all anti-labor laws such as Taft-Hartley and “right to work” statutes; enact a New Deal type public works program; uncap the Social Security Tax; establish a nationwide network of state and public banks.
The Right to a Livable Climate, Clean Energy, and Healthy Communities
Vision: A rapid economic transformation centered on jobs, redistributive justice, breaking free from fossil fuels, and expanding energy democracy; a future built on caring for each other and our planet.
Steps: Ban fracking and new fossil fuel projects; eliminate net carbon pollution by 2050; tax the 1% and create millions of jobs transforming our energy, agriculture, and transportation systems; aggressively regulate for efficiency jumps in cars and buildings immediately and 100% renewable electricity by 2035; build thriving, resilient communities by investing in public health, lead removal, and state and local parks.
The Right to Quality Education for All
Vision: Full and fair funding of all public schools, from pre-K to higher education. A community based-school system that honors and validates the identity, skills, and needs of all people. Structural accountability in every school to uphold the values of people as complex humans who deserve to hone and refine their passions, not a test score.
Steps: End high stakes testing; reduce class sizes; provide meals and health care for all students; provide public libraries in every school; remove police and military recruiters from schools, Free Higher Education for all, forgiveness for all student debt.
The Right to Decent Housing for All
Vision: Decent housing guaranteed to all as a right.
Steps: Promote rent control, limited equity housing coops, land trusts, and urban farming; end the siting of toxic development in low income neighborhoods; enact policies to combat racist and classist displacement/gentrification.
The Right to Healthcare for All
Vision: Recognition of health care as a human right; comprehensive, free health care to include reproductive services, including abortion; holistic and noncriminal approach to expanded addiction services, mandated safe patient to nurse ratios, gun control, and accessible comprehensive health service.
Steps: Fully fund Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, then enact Medicare for All; rescind all laws designed to deny or limit reproductive rights or promote gender/identity based health discrimination; increase support for community and school-based care, nutritional, addiction and mental health services.
The Right to Equal Justice for All
Vision: A law enforcement and criminal justice system free from excessive force, racial discrimination, police brutality, mass incarceration and for-profit prison corporations.
Steps: Mandate restorative justice and reentry programs; abolish cash bail, excessive sentencing, solitary confinement, and mandatory minimums; decriminalize drugs and other addiction or poverty-driven crimes. Hold police and prosecutors accountable when they commit crimes.
The Right to Dignity, Safety, and Justice for All Immigrants, Regardless of Status
Vision: An accessible immigration system with a reasonable and timely pathway to legal status in the United States; demilitarization of immigration policing both at the border and internally.
Steps : Enact a clean DREAM Act; lift ban on refugees and raise refugee quotas; freeze funding for border wall; universal representation for immigrants in detention and removal proceedings; pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants; end arbitrary detention and ICE contracts with private prisons, freeze hiring for CBP and abolish ICE; enact municipal IDs and expanded rights for non-citizens including fair labor practices.
The Right to Unionize and Collectively Bargain
Vision: Democratic unions as the vehicle for workplace representation, with the right to organize and strike free from interference by employers; a constitutional amendment guaranteeing employment at a living wage.
Steps: Appoint National Labor Relations Board members who will certify, without an election, a labor organization to be the exclusive representative of employees who sign cards seeking such representation; increase enforcement of OSHA protections; eliminate wage theft.