DI Leaders

NAACP President Brooks Leads Sit-in in Iowa

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Less than two weeks after the sit-in organized in Mobile, Alabama, the NAACP followed up with another sit-in protest in Iowa. NAACP President Cornell William Brooks and members of the NAACP, Iowa AFL-CIO, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) came to the office of Senator Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committe, to protest the possible confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

"[W]hen you look at this nominee from voting rights to the protection of LGBTQ rights to the civil rights policing sentencing, he is bad pick at a particularly bad time," President Brooks said in an interview with a local outlet of USA Today, the Des Moines Register. "It is the ultimate irony that we are going to have to break the law in order to ensure that we have an attorney general who will enforce the law ... most assuredly, the Voting Rights Act." By the end of the day, two protesters had been arrested and cited for failure to disperse. Click here to see tweets and videos of the event, posted by the Iowa CCI Action Fund. 


NAACP President Brooks Arrested Protesting Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions

Friday, January 6, 2017

The NAACP took the fight against Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions to his office on Tuesday, January 3rd with an act of civil disobedience leading to his arrest. NAACP President and CEO and Democracy Initiative Board Member Cornell William Brooks led the occupation of Sessions’ Mobile, Alabama office saying he and five other NAACP members would leave either under arrest or after Sessions had withdrawn his name for consideration.

Jeff Sessions, whose district court nomination was rejected in the ‘80s due to racist remarks, praised the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and has worked against immigration, women’s equality, and money-in-politics reform.The protest ended Tuesday evening with the arrests of President Brooks and five other members of the NAACP, but the fight continues as confirmation hearings begin on January 10th.


Board Chair Larry Cohen Joins Board of Our Revolution

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Democracy Initiative Board Chair Larry Cohen was selected to join the Board of Directors of a new organization Our Revolution. The group is working to reclaim democracy for average Americans by revitilizing our democracy, empowering progressive leaders, and elevating political consciousness. Read the statement about the new board here.


DI Statement in Response to Arrests of Advocates Calling for Changes to the Voting Rights Act

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Statement by Wendy Fields, Executive Director, Democracy Initiative

In response to arrest of advocates calling for restoration of the Voting Rights Act


We at the Democracy Initative congratulate Cornell Brooks and Stephen Green on their bold act of leadership to restore voting rights. We also applaud the young people who participated in this peaceful protest to strengthen our democracy for future generations. 

Earlier this week, Cornell William Brooks, Democracy Initiative board member and NAACP National President and CEO, and Stephen Green, National Director for the NAACP Youth and College Division, were arrested after a six-hour peaceful protest at the Roanoke office of Representative Bob Goodlatte.


Brooks and Green were joined by members of the Roanoke NAACP and youth council. Together, they urged Rep. Goodlatte to take action to restore the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson originally signed into law 51 years ago this week. Alarmingly, the past few years have seen a coordinated attempt to dismantle the landmark protections that the Voting Rights Act established and suppress voter turnout. As the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Goodlatte has blocked hearings on legislation to combat this surge in voter discrimination.


Our democracy only works when the voice of each person is heard and counted equally, which is why it is so critical that our elected officials restore and protect the Voting Rights Act.


Wendy Fields is the Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative. Prior to joining the Democracy Initiative, Wendy was the Vice President for Campaigns and Strategic Partnerships at Common Cause, where she focused on linking economic inequality and racial inequality to the democracy agenda. Previously, she spent more than 20 years at the United Auto Workers International Union where she devoted her time to organizing and coalition building.


Larry Cohen Joins DNC "Unity Reform Commission"

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Democracy Initiative is proud to announce that our Larry Cohen, our Chair, will be serving as Vice-Chair of the new "Unity Reform Commission" of the Democratic National Committee. The Commission is the result of grassroots efforts to enhance voter representation by protecting and expanding voting rights and reducing the role of money in politics.

Larry will help lead it in producing recommendations to increase voter participation and inclusion.  This election has illustrated the effectiveness of Americans when they fight collectively to change our system for the better. The Commission is mandated to eliminate about 2/3 of the super delegates from effecting presidential nomination results beginning with the 2020 election cycle. In addition, it will address key elements to enhancing the democratic process by increasing inclusivity and representation as well as broadening the donor base of the Democratic Party in order to weaken the influence of corporate money. The creation of this commission is both an accomplishment for our democracy and a recognition of Democracy Initiative allies who testified before the DNC Platform Committee in June.