Annual Meeting Information
PRESIDENT'S JUNE 1, 2017 ANNUAL MEETING REPORT
Last June, barely a month after I was elected LEAGUE President and before I could get my feet damp, I was off to Washington, DC for our national convention. What an experience! There were back to back to back meetings with men and women League leaders from around the country and the US Virgin Islands. There was heated discussion - and debate - about whether we should support DC statehood, who could become members of the League and how we must recruit younger members because almost every delegate there had gray or graying hair. The outcome of the last debate was that anybody who lives in the United States, 16 years and older, can join the League. A great outcome.
Returning to Charlotte, I set about heeding the directions the board received from members at last year's Annual Meeting. We began League Talk, an every-other-month evening meeting for members who can't attend Lunch with the League.
As a former journalist, I sent press releases to the media about League events. As a result, we began to see get mentions in the media. We appeared on Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins to talk about the importance of voting. On WCNC-TV we fielded questions from voters on election day who wanted to know where they should vote. We appeared on UNC-TV to discuss our opposition to HB2. Board members wrote and had letters to the Editor published in the Charlotte Observer.
We reached out to young adults and recruited some, but were stymied because work, school and family obligations limit the time young people can dedicate to organizations such as ours.
I visited with many in the community to let them know that the League desires diversity in age, gender and ethnicity in its ranks. I spoke at the Tuesday Morning Forum and appeared as a panelist at the Urban League of Central Carolinas' State of Black America forum. Last month, I read our League position on student diversity and school equity at the CMS Board of Education public hearing on pupil reassignment. Also, last this month, I appeared at a wonderful community forum on how to avoid political polarization that was organized by students at East Mecklenburg High School.
I attended many action team meetings, helped to register students at area high schools and spoke at Central Piedmont Community College
In the year that was, I was very proud of the fact that we successfully lobbied Mecklenburg County Commission for an additional year of funding for the election debates we produce on local public TV station WTVI. Last year, for the first time, we had a judicial candidates debate.
What I've discussed are a few highlights of the year that was. You'll find much more information if you go to our website, go league.org, which we update frequently.
Finally, I would like to say that May 17 of 2016 to May of this year - our League's fiscal year - was the best of times and the worst of times.
For many Leagues around the country, including ours, it was a good year. We showed fantastic growth in membership. That growth, however, came about because of the worst of times - the 2016 presidential election with an erosion of the values and political positions the League has long held.
(By the way, if you didn't know it, the League favors direct election of the US president and Vice President by the people - not the Electoral College.)
The League, of course, came out of the movement for the right of women to vote. Today, however, we are dedicating ourselves to making sure all eligible voters - most particularly those from traditionally underserved, underrepresented communities - first-time voters, non-college youth, new citizens, people of color, the elderly and low-income Americans + have the opportunity and information needed to exercise their right to vote. And to vote in their best interest. I favor that focus because our work in that area shows we are cognizant of those who are our country's future.
Another League focus the public should know about is that we desire health care for all. The exceedingly cruel and outrageous health care bill recently passed by the US House of Representatives shocks us - and our battle against it must be loud, strong and unrelenting.
A third focus we must promote to the public is that the League stands for legislation that protects us from the effects of pollution and climate change. As Charlotteans, - we must discuss more openly, and lobby for safety measures in our area, especially with the presence of nuclear and coal ash dangers so close to us. We need an Environmental Action Team to speak to those issues and I hope we have volunteers tonight who will sign up for an Environmental Action Team.
Just four months into our new US presidency, many of us are already weary of the battles we are fighting and must continue to fight for the issues we believe in. Those who oppose our values never give up. Nor should we. Fortunately, we now have reinforcements from many new members who have joined our ranks since the election.
In closing, and I am closing now, it has been an honor to represent the League of Women Voters Charlotte Mecklenburg - and it's been my great fortune to be part of a group of extremely supportive and active Board members and Action Team leaders who make my work so much easier.
Thank you all.