Growing Equity Movement Wins Big in California, Points the Way for Advocates Nationwide
California’s legislative session has come to a close with significant victories for equity. As we pause to celebrate this achievement we thank the thousands of people — racial justice advocates from all walks of life — whose years of organizing led to this moment. Their work — and the resulting victories in California to protect renters, curb police violence, and benefit students — light a path forward for how we as a nation can win on equity.
A series of new laws signed by Governor Gavin Newsom over the last few weeks will help the state to overcome its troubled racist and xenophobic history. While considered by many a progressive beacon for the country, California is also home to some of our country’s most harmful narratives and policies of exclusion. Grassroots leaders and people directly impacted by the injustice of these policies and systems have been harnessing their power to advance their vision of a more just and inclusive California for decades.
California movement leaders are grateful for the spirit of solidarity that drives the actions of advocates throughout the state. We honor them and those across the nation whose efforts are essential to winning on equity. In the spirit of building a national movement, we laud the wins in California to highlight how the equity movement is growing here. We urge others across the nation to share their wins as well.
In California, recent legislation — led by coalitions that include renters, families suffering from police violence, and students — defeated special interests and raised the moral and political standard for justice in our state.
Protecting Vulnerable Renters
PolicyLink proudly partnered with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action, PICO California, Public Advocates, TechEquity Collaborative, and Western Center on Law and Poverty to push for the passage of Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482), authored by Assemblymember David Chiu. Thanks to the determination of tenant and equity advocates from across California, renters will now be protected from rent gouging and unscrupulous landlords, who, for too long, have been able to evict renters without just cause.
Uplifting Boys and Men of Color, Their Families, and Communities
For the past eight years, PolicyLink has supported the coordination of the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color — a grassroots advocacy network — securing over 100 policy victories to transform systems failing boys and men of color, their families, and communities. This year, the Alliance and their allies won big. Because of the Fair Pay to Play Act (SB 206) authored by Senator Nancy Skinner and advanced by co-sponsors PolicyLink, the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, and the National College Players Association, California has taken a historic step toward ending the exploitation of student athletes by allowing them to be compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness.
Through another hard-fought victory, California students gained important civil rights protections with the signing of (SB 419) also authored by Senator Nancy Skinner and co-sponsored by the Fix School Discipline Coalition; Public Counsel; PolicyLink; the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color; Children Now; Brothers, Sons, Selves, Coalition; Mid-City Community Action Network; and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. This bill prohibits schools from suspending elementary and middle school students for “willful defiance.” This prohibition will help keep students in school, protect them from discriminatory practices, and move the state one step closer to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. We look forward to working with our partners to extend this protection to high school students.
On police violence, California ranks high as a state where low-income people and communities of color are disproportionately at greater risk of officers using lethal force. Led by families directly impacted by police violence, and authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, the California Act to Save Lives (AB 392) updated California’s use-of-force laws to make sure police officers avoid using deadly force at every possible opportunity. It is co-sponsored by the #LetUsLive coalition, which includes Youth Justice Coalition; United Domestic Workers (UDW) – AFSCME Local 3930; STOP Coalition; PICO California; Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ); California Families United 4 Justice; Anti Police-Terror Project; ACLU of California; PolicyLink; and the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.
Our experience in California shows that by building grassroots community power, we can advance a vision for a more just and inclusive nation that centers the voices and leadership of the most marginalized, and transforms policies and systems so that all may participate, prosper, and achieve their full potential.