Fellow Ward 6 Democrats,
With the Labor Day holiday just around the corner and just over two months to go until the election, our focus remains steady on two things: educating DC voters about how we can vote safely this fall and supporting the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) work of the campaigns of Rep. Elaine Luria (VA-02), Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Theresa Greenfield (challenger for Senate in Iowa), and Jaime Harrison (challenger for Senate in South Carolina). See below for ways you can help all four get elected November 3.
I'm also pleased to report that our Women of Ward 6 feature makes a triumphant return, sharing the story of beloved DC singer and songwriter Roberta Flack.
Finally, I wanted to note the passing of Howard Croft. He was a longtime civil rights and DC Statehood activist, and a fixture in local DC politics, particularly here in Ward 6. He fell ill with COVID-19 this spring and died in June, although news of his passing only recently became public, when the Washington Post ran a lovely tribute to Mr. Croft that focused on his love of and work for DC residents.
President, Ward 6 Democrats
GOTV Updates & Save the Date
Our next monthly Get Out the Vote virtual meeting will be Tuesday, September 15, starting at 7:00 p.m. We'll be talking about the fourth campaign we're supporting this fall, that of Jaime Harrison, who is challenging Trump's golf buddy Lindsey Graham for Senate in South Carolina. We'll also have a special guest joining the call. Details and RSVP at https://www.mobilize.us/dcdemsward6/event/310365/.
Meanwhile, our postcard writing efforts are ongoing. We've completed all the Theresa Greenfield addresses for Iowa for now (this batch was going out early, with a focus on reminding Iowans to request their absentee ballots), but we are still writing postcards for Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07).
Need addresses? Email Matt LaFortune at [email protected]
- List of links to postcard sources
- Postcards designed by the niece of one of our dedicated GOTV volunteers (thanks for the sharing the link, Amelia!)
- Network NoVA's Virginia-specific postcards
Need a little help keeping your postcard writing energy up? Network NoVA, a local Virginia grass roots activist organization, is hosting weekly postcard power lunches, Fridays at noon. They feature music, messaging ideas, weekly special guests, and prizes. Register to join them here.
VA Victory DAILY Textbank
Speaking of Network NoVA: Do you want to do something in addition to writing postcards but you don't like phone banking? Have you tried text banking? Network NoVA, the grassroots organization just across the river, is doing DAILY text banks.
We can't promise you'll get to work on the particular campaigns the Ward 6 Dems have chosen - Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Rep. Elaine Luria - but you will be supporting Joe Biden, Senator Mark Warner, and other Dems running in Virginia.
The focus is similar to phone banking, that is, you're not trying to convince hard core MAGA-heads to change their minds; you're exhorting inconsistent Dem voters to get to the polls and, this year in particular, providing information about their options so they can vote safely. (And speaking from personal experience, I've found that I get a much better response from text banking than from phone banking. Most folks won't pick up a number they don't recognize these days, but lots of folks are willing to have a quick text conversation with you. --Elizabeth Engel, newsletter editor)
Details and RSVP at https://www.mobilize.us/vavictory/event/306927/. Network NoVA is text banking two hours every week day and four hours (in two different time slots) every weekend day, so you can easily do as little or as much as you like.
Volunteer Opportunity: DC Statehood - DEADLINE Saturday, September 5
Have you written to Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in support of DC statehood yet? DC Vote extended their deadline, so there's still time!
Senator Murkowski was recently quoted as being open to supporting S. 631, the Senate version of the Washington DC Admission Act, but she needs to hear directly from DC residents. Landing even ONE Republican supporter would be a HUGE step in securing our full rights of citizenship.
DC Vote is organizing a letter-writing campaign to demonstrate to Senator Murkowski that the 700,000+ residents of DC are serious: We want statehood, and we want it now.
What do you need to do?
- Hand-write or type a letter to Senator Murkowski explaining why you are for DC Statehood.
- Mail to DC Vote: 1111 14th Street NW, #1000, Washington, DC 20005. Or email your letter as a PDF to [email protected].
- Encourage your friends and neighbors to participate.
Talking points you can use, from Neighbors United for DC Statehood.
Formatting and content tips for writing to a Senator from the American Library Association.
DC Federation of Democratic Women Event, "Let's Get In Good Trouble" - TONIGHT, Monday, August 31
The DC Federation of Democratic Women are hosting a conversation with best-selling author Brenda Jones, "Let's Get In Good Trouble," a celebration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment and a celebration of change-makers, past, present, and future. The event starts with the a virtual happy hour at 6:45 p.m. The conversation with Ms. Jones will run from 7:00-8:00 p.m., followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. RSVP here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Get Ready To Vote, DC
First, have you checked your voter registration status yet? It takes seconds, so please do it now if you haven't already: https://www.dcboe.org/Voters/Register-To-Vote/Check-Voter-Registration-Status.
The reason this is so critical is that Board of Elections is going to automatically mail absentee ballots to EVERY registered DC voter at the beginning of October. You will have multiple options for returning your absentee ballot:
- You can drop it in the mail, and it's postage pre-paid, so you don't even need a stamp.
- You can drop it in any one of the 50 secure drop boxes the BoE will be placing around town: https://earlyvoting.dcboe.org/MailBallotDropSites-11-3-2020.pdf.
- You can drop it at any voting center, either any of the 17 open for early voting starting October 27 or any of the more than 70 locations that will be open on November 3: https://earlyvoting.dcboe.org/VoteCenterPresidentialGeneralElectionList.pdf.
Make a plan to vote safely this fall.
What else can you do?
While we will all be getting mail ballots - and we should all plan to return them as early as possible or pop them into one of the secure BoE drop boxes to reduce the load on the US Postal Service - DC is going to have polling places open, and the Board of Elections needs poll workers. Many of our most dedicated and experienced poll workers are our senior neighbors, and it's not safe for them to work the polls during the pandemic. If you're in a lower-risk demographic category, please consider signing up to help on November 3. Information and application are available at: https://www.dcboe.org/Poll-Workers/Apply-to-be-an-Election-Day-Worker.
It take about 5-10 minutes to complete your 2020 Census questionnaire online. Although a number of states have sued to try to stop him, Donald Trump dramatically shortened the time frame for the door-to-door visits by Census enumerators, so it's particularly important that we all complete our questionnaires online ASAP at https://my2020census.gov. Trump is trying to stop the count as of September 30, 2020, so time is running out.
Why does the Census matter?
- The federal government distributes over $6 billion annually to the District to support vital programs based on census data.
- Census data is used to update Ward and ANC boundaries to reflect population growth and movement across the District.
- District agencies rely on accurate census data for budgeting, planning, and policy decision-making across the city.
- Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life, and consumer advocacy.
- Businesses use census data to decide where to build offices and stores, creating jobs in our community.
An undercount would have serious consequences for our city, denying us federal funds to which we are entitled that support everything from programs for children to infrastructure improvements.
Women of Ward 6: Roberta Flack
September’s Woman of Ward 6 is Roberta Flack, a singer-songwriter, who got her start at Capitol Hill’s Mr. Henry’s Restaurant. She’s known for her recording of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” which actor/director Clint Eastwood featured in the movie “Play Misty for Me.” It became Billboard’s top song of 1972. Other well-known recordings include “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “Where is the Love,” and “The Closer I Get to You.” (Check out a video of her performing "The Closer I Get to You" live here.)
Flack was born in Black Mountain, NC, and raised in Arlington, VA. Growing up, she often accompanied the choir of Lomax African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church by playing hymns and spirituals on piano, but she also enjoyed going to the Baptist church down the street to listen to contemporary gospel music, such as that performed by Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke.
During her early teens, she so excelled at classical piano that Howard University awarded her a full music scholarship. She entered Howard at 15, making her one of the youngest students ever to enroll there. She eventually changed her major from piano to voice, and became an assistant conductor for the university choir. She graduated Howard at 19 and began graduate studies in music, but the sudden death of her father forced her to take a job teaching music and English in Farmville, NC.
Before becoming a professional singer-songwriter, Flack returned to Washington, DC, and taught at Browne Junior High and Rabault Junior High. She also taught private piano lessons out of her home on Euclid Street NW.
Her music career began to take shape on evenings and weekends in DC area night spots.
She began singing professionally after being hired to perform at Ward 6’s Mr. Henry’s Restaurant on Capitol Hill in 1968.
The atmosphere in Mr. Henry’s was welcoming and the club turned into a showcase for the young music teacher. Her voice mesmerized locals and word spread. A-list entertainers who were appearing in town would come in late at night to hear her sing, including jazz great Ramsey Lewis, who was a frequent visitor to the club.
“She told me if I could give her work three nights a week,” said restaurant owner Henry Yaffe, “she would quit teaching.” He did and so she did. She performed five nights a week, three sets per night.
To meet Flack’s standards, Yaffe transformed the apartment above the bar into the Roberta Flack Room. (Pre-pandemic, the space still hosted live music four nights a week.)
“I got the oak paneling from the old Dodge Hotel near Union Station,” Yaffe said. “I put in heavy upholstered chairs, sort of a conservative style from the 50’s and an acoustical system designed especially for Roberta. She was very demanding. She was a perfectionist.”
Les McCann, a jazz pianist and vocalist, discovered Flack singing and playing jazz at Mr. Henry’s. “Her voice touched, tapped, trapped and kicked every emotion I’ve ever known,” he said. “I laughed, cried and screamed for more … she alone had the voice.” He quickly arranged for an audition for her with Atlantic Records. In November 1968, she recorded 39 song demos in less than 10 hours. Three months later, Atlantic reportedly recorded her debut album “First Take” in only 10 hours. Flack later said these studio sessions were a “very naïve and beautiful approach … I was comfortable with the music because I had worked on all these songs for all the years I had worked at Mr. Henry’s.”
Flack is active as a humanitarian and mentor. She founded the Roberta Flack School of Music at the Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx, providing an innovative and inspiring music education program to under-served students free of charge.
In 2018, she retired from touring and continues to make special appearances. She received a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020. You can read more about Roberta Flack at www.robertaflack.com.
About the Initiative: The Women of Ward 6 Initiative is a non-partisan recognition of Ward 6’s women. The initiative, in partnership with the National Woman’s Party, Capitol Hill Restoration Society and the Hill Rag, will culminate in 2020, with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.