After Jan 6th, Let’s Memorialize April 9
Ludovic Blain is the leading organizer of individual donors in California achieving progressive policy and electoral outcomes by investing in communities of color. As the Executive Director of the California Donor Table, California Donor Table Fund, and the Progressive Era Pac, Ludovic has helped raise more than $50 million since 2009, leading to congressional, state legislative, district attorney, mayoral and other local candidate wins, as well as progressive policies at the regional and state levels.
In California, 89 people across the state are known to have participated in the January 6 insurrection, including 16 who are currently representing our state in all levels of office. But our struggle for democracy did not start with the conservative election denial and violent insurrection of 2020.
The tug-of-war between the American ideal of freedom for all versus freedom for some, has been unyielding since 1865. On April 9th, General Robert E. Lee finally surrendered his confederate army at Appomattox Courthouse, believing the best course for his men was to return home and resume their lives as American citizens. What most people don’t realize is that following the formal military agreement, radical confederate factions continued to battle for months, killing thousands after the war in their refusal of defeat.
More than 150 years later, we can draw a direct connection between those unrelenting confederates, and ongoing exclusionary California policies and practices. In 2023 alone Shasta County Board of Supervisors may grant leadership to a secessionist-minded white supremacist, while school districts in the Inland Empire and Orange County are banning the teaching of accurate American history.
Modern day confederates aren’t the only ones prioritizing white supremacy over a multiracial democracy in California. Too many “moderate” Democratic elected leaders protect their charter school and oil company patrons and the wealthy, over the well-being of their working class constituents. That is why, in our majority people of color state, Black people still experience the highest health inequities, incarceration and policing rates, unemployment, and gaps in homeownership.
Within California’s long fight for democracy, we also have a long legacy of freedom-fighting Californian leaders. Thanks to recent investments in power-building and civic engagement in underfunded regions of the state, community-centered leaders are winning more and more elections, gradually beating out corporate and GOP backed candidates, and making meaningful change for Californian’s. This includes history-making progressives from recent elections: State Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes, Antioch City Councilmember Tamisha Torres-Walker, LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, and San Diego Supervisor Nora Varga and in 2022: Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price, State Senator Aisha Wahab and LA Mayor Karen Bass.
These are the leaders progressing California’s momentous campaigns for abolition, guaranteed income, and reparations, who are also increasing voter of color participation and overall voter turnout. From Edward Duplex to recent elections, we are leading the country’s third reconstruction.
So, how can the struggle for democracy in California keep winning out, and keep trailblazing progressive action for our nation? By shifting power away from corporate and right-wing backed politics, towards our most marginalized people and communities. By investing in regional powerbuilding, civic engagement, and community-centered policy, we can ensure communities of color are centered in government and continue to build power for the long term. We must continue to invest in leaders who share the values of these communities. And we must rebalance governing power in California at all levels of government to advance a people-centered democracy.
Earlier this year, when Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, proudly subverted his City Council’s racism by proclaiming he’s ”with the Blacks” I cried. For the first time in my 33 year career as a now-grizzled political operative, I cried because I felt the true solidarity of an elected leader who put Black people’s safety, dignity and livelihood at the center of his work.
Californians are already well acquainted with the axiom — as California goes, so goes the nation. By properly commemorating April 9, the day the confederate defense of slavery was defeated, we have an opportunity to finally close the book of American slavery and white supremacy, which has roared back from its smoldering embers of centuries past. By doing so, California will progress in making our great state a more healthy and just place to live where people of all backgrounds and lived experiences can thrive. By doing so, California can once again lead the nation towards true freedom and justice.