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Maryland NOW Calls for National NOW President’s Resignation

June 28, 2020

Maryland NOW’s state officers and state council members are very concerned about articles outlining charges of racism that have been circulating about our National NOW President, Toni Van Pelt, during this past month. These involve alleged repeated racist treatment of NOW’s officers, staff, national board members, and state and chapter leaders.

These alleged charges have been supported by documents including letters from former staff and interns to the National Board of Directors, letters and press releases from members of our National Board calling for Van Pelt’s resignation, and a lawsuit that has been filed by a former officer. The charges, which include creating a hostile work environment and ill-treatment of NOW staff and interns, along with other violations of NOW policies, have appeared in several national publications and continue to spread in the press.

Maryland NOW’s State President, Sandy Bell, has joined with 23 of 36 other state leaders and state councils, along with a majority of members of our National Board of Directors, and dozens of current and former chapter leaders calling for her to resign. As this discussion has dragged on without Van Pelt’s resignation amid growing press coverage of the situation, we have lost confidence in Van Pelt’s ability to effectively lead NOW, and we stand in support of all those who have raised these questions and also called for her resignation.

This situation represents a very serious time in NOW’s history. Maryland NOW believes unequivocally that racism in any form has no place in NOW. As members and supporters may hear about these allegations, we wanted to send you information about this matter and let you know of our actions.

We will continue to keep you informed and welcome your comments. If you have questions or concerns, please write to us: president@marylandnow.org

If you wish to write to National NOW President Toni Van Pelt, please do so at this address: president@now.org

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Articles, Press Releases and Other Background Information

Here are links to articles that have appeared online about calls for Toni Van Pelt’s resignation. The story is being covered primarily by Emily Shugerman of the “Daily Beast.” The matter has been commented on by FOX News and MSNBC and is circulating in many feminist blogs online.

 June 6th “Don’t Forget the White Women!” : Members Say Racism Ran Rampant at NOW

June 7th “NOW Board Members Demand President Toni Van Pelt Resign Amid Racism Claims”

June 11th “Push to Oust NOW President Grows Amid New Racism Complaints”

June 26trh “NOW Board Members: We’re Being Punished for Blowing the Whistle on Racism”

State Presidents’ Letter to the National NOW Board of Directors, June 12, 2020

National Board Members’ Press Release, June 26, 2020

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Here is a link to a Sign-On Letter from activists and former leaders to the National NOW Board calling for Toni Van Pelt’s resignation  

This letter was written and circulated to National NOW members and former leaders of chapters and states in NOW, calling for Toni Van Pelt to resign. Using this link you can add your name and contact information. Names are still being added and are forwarded to the National Board regularly.

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If you want to support Toni’s decision to remain in office, you may write to her at president@now.org. She is asking for individual letters of support that may be circulated to various lists of leaders.

June 19 – 155 Years Later

June 19, 2020

What Juneteenth Means This Year

It is a small victory that this Juneteenth, the racism that poisons our culture is finally getting some of the attention it deserves from people of all races and in all walks of life. To some this feels like “Groundhog Day” with only the hope and perhaps little confidence that we will actually see change. As Will Smith said several years ago, “It’s not getting worse. It’s getting filmed.”

“Black Lives Matter” every day. People of color face racism every minute of every day in their lives in a way white people cannot understand. We must focus attention on Black Lives now until Black Lives are valued and the systemic problems – especially around police brutality — are addressed.

NOW’s response to inequality has always been about action. So it is very frustrating that today the pandemic makes participation in visible actions on Juneteenth impossible for many. We hope if there a Juneteenth event near you in the next few days, and you can do so, that you will join.

But none of this stops what we must do on this day – to reflect and commit to doing more to stand up and say “No More.”  Perhaps the action that each white person can take is to pledge this Juneteenth that we will never ever again witness an act of racism and not step in as an advocate. It’s not hard, and in NOW we understand what this means, and what it accomplishes. We can start there, and then there’s more.

We all have a great deal to learn and white people can start by listening to our sisters and brothers of color. Together we can accomplish what needs to happen to truly demonstrate that Black Lives are valued all the time, every day – to all of us.

Sandy Bell,
President, Maryland NOW

Maryland NOW Holds First Virtual Annual State Conference

May 20, 2020

Maryland NOW held our first-ever online or virtual Annual State Conference on May 16th using Zoom Video Conferencing Software. We had almost 50 people join us, including a few NOW state presidents from around the country who are looking at this medium to hold meetings.

We were able to welcome our own Congressional Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8) to discuss “Looking Ahead in Uncertain Times – Can We Win?” (please see the link on this post) with Maryland NOW members having the opportunity to ask questions following his remarks.

Maryland NOW’s Annual Conference is our supreme governing body that meets annually to elect state officers and to discuss policy and programs members see as helping move us forward.

Since we have no bylaws process at this time for online voting, our Nominations and Elections Chair, Jennierose D’Elia-Dufour prepared and mailed ballots to all members in attendance and eligible to vote following the conference. The last day to return ballots is May 29th. The results will be published in this space following the announcement of the election outcome.

The Maryland NOW State Council will consider the positions for Action VP and Secretary at their next state meeting, probably held via Zoom Video Conferencing Software. Council members (representing our executive committee and member chapters) will also discuss moving forward with plans for the coming general election cycle and efforts we will want to undertake to elect new national leadership for our country.

If you are interested in joining us in a leadership role (your interest in activism makes you a leader!) please contact Jennierose D’Elia-Dufour at elections2020@marylandnow.org or our president, Sandy Bell (president@marylandnow.org) for more information.

 

Listen to Rep. Raskin’s remarks at the conference  

The recording begins with Rep Raskin’s introduction to the group by MD NOW President Sandy Bell.

 

Actions You Can Take to Help Victims of Domestic Violence and Depression

April 16, 2020

Maryland NOW is very concerned about the spike in incidents of domestic violence and the increase in suicides over the last month. Directives to stay-at-home and the isolation it brings don’t help either of these situations.

Here are two small posters you can download which contain hotline/crisis line numbers for people struggling with these issues.

Please download them. You may be able to take them to your grocery or pharmacy, your apartment building or condo community, or even around your neighborhood.