Singing for Democracy from Lexington to Lynch

CKY Singing for Democracy We didn’t go to the polls this year, but KFTC members are building a better Democracy and New Power everyday. To keep Democracy alive in November, hundreds of KFTC members gathered in kitchens, living rooms, churches, and community centers to celebrate, vision, and build toward the Kentucky we all deserve. Among the nearly 50 events that occurred on Tuesday November 5th, were at least a couple that really made some noise in celebration and song.

‘Singing for Democracy’ events have become a tradition of the campaign to restore voting rights to former felons in our Commonwealth. So on (no) election day, communities in Lexington and Lynch gathered to sing out in praise and celebration for Voting Rights and Democracy! 

Presentation of Appreciation to City CouncilsIn the coal camp town of Lynch in Harlan County, over 30 people gathered in the Eastern Kentucky Social Club for food, fellowship, and three musical performances by their neighbors and friends. Between music, KFTC members shared stories of local work to build up their home communities through energy efficiency and generation, as well as plans for the road ahead to restore voting rights to nearly 250,000 former felons in 2014. City Council members, mayors, clerks and neighbors spent the evening together, celebrating and building toward a healthier Democracy at home and across Kentucky. The evening’s performers included Stanley Sturgill, Erica Eldridge, and the Mt. Sinai Spirituals, all of Lynch. Rutland Melton, of Lynch, presented Benham and Lynch City Councils with certificates of appreciation for their work with the Harlan Co. chapter to get energy upgrades on homes and city buildings in both towns. 

Erica Eldridge, Lynch City Clerk

Carl Shoupe, of Benham, shared his family’s story of decades of voter disenfranchisement, long after debts were paid and his son was back to work, paying taxes. He added “I look out here and see many of my fellow UMWA miners. We learned to organize through the UMWA but they’ve been gone from here for a long time. We have to organize to be represented. I organize with KFTC because that’s how little towns like ours get a big voice in Frankfort.”

Mt. Sinai Spirituals in Lynch, KY from Kentuckians For The Commonwealth on Vimeo.

 In Lexington, approximately 150 people gathered at Total Grace Baptist Church for a night of gospel music, praise dancing, and testimony. “I’d like to welcome you all to this event we call ‘Singing for Democracy’. This is how we roll!” said Tayna Fogle, longtime voting rights activisTayna Foglet and KFTC member. Tayna organized the event along with the help of Central Kentucky chapter member Sarah Thomas. Tayna opened the event by talking about the importance of a Democracy that includes all voices and the importance of restoring voting rights to former felons. Tayna stressed that voting is the most important right a person has and that we all need to recognize it. “The vote packs a whole lot of power,” Fogle said. 

The program featured music from Total Grace Baptist Church choir, Michael Thomas, and Lydia Pendleton and praise dancing from Bapes (Charles Young Dancers) and Unspoken. Pastor Michael Robinson engaged the crowd about the importance of being treated as a whole person and how denying a person the right to vote can chip away at a person’s feelings of self-worth while Aleene Bryant shared her story of overcoming drug addiction and related her story to so many others who are working to change their lives and have their voting rights restored. CKY Singing for DemocracyThat evening the Lexington Nighthawks motorcycle club was recognized for their work in the campaign to restore voting rights, as well as a celebration of the life of Michael Thomas, a community member who passed away, but left a great legacy behind and took part in the campaign to restore voting rights.

“Our democracy is broken, as many have said tonight. Too many people are shut out of voting in Kentucky due to past felony convictions. That makes it even more important for those of us who are eligible to vote to exercise that right, while we also work to change Kentucky’s constitution and restore voting rights,” Fogle said.

 To see more pictures of these events, as well as other Democracy parties across the state this month, check out KFTC's Flickr page.

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