There aren’t too many issues that unite most Americans on the same side, but “Love thy neighbor” has historically been a pretty popular concept – at least, in theory. The leap of initiative between the thought of “I should help,” and the action of “I *will* help,” is one most people fail to make. Not so for today’s guests, King Williams and Mina Turabi, who looked at problems in their own communities – voter suppression and gun violence, respectively – and forged their own paths in search of solutions.
- King Williams newsletter: https://iamkingwilliams.substack.com/
- Hosea Helps: https://4hosea.org/
- March For Our Lives Georgia: https://marchforourlives.com/ga/
- RISE: https://risefree.org/
- Georgia early voting locations: https://georgia.gov/early-voting
Ground Game: Georgia is hosted by Holly Anderson and Marcus Patrick Ellsworth. Follow us at @groundgamepod on Twitter and Instagram, and visit us on the web at www.groundgamepod.com.
Ground Game: Georgia is a production of unir.
EPISODE 04: KEEP GOING – TRANSCRIPT
NSÉ UFOT: “You know, we are here because of the changing demographics that are happening in the country. For that change, more acute and more aggressive than in Georgia.
CLIFF ALBRIGHT: “Because at the end of the day ya’ll, it’s not just about any one election. It’s not even just about the candidates. That’s right. We put on the back of our shirts: It’s about us, because that’s what it’s about. It’s about us, our communities, our kids, our jobs, our schools, and it is literally about our lives, ya’ll.”
LATOSHA BROWN: “When I say love, you say power! LOVE!”
LATOSHA BROWN: “LOVE!”
LATOSHA BROWN: “We love ya’ll! See you all at the polls on Monday!”
MARCUS ELLSWORTH, HOST: Welcome to Ground Game: Georgia.
HOLLY ANDERSON, HOST: “From Atlanta, I’m Holly Anderson.
MARCUS: “And just across the border in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I’m Marcus Ellsworth.”
HOLLY: In today’s episode, we’re talking with Atlanta filmmaker King Williams about the Pizza to the Polls program he and his friends started to feed hungry voters standing in long lines. We also have Mina Turabi from March For Our Lives – Georgia who has been organizing voters around the issue of ending gun violence, while being a full-time student.
MARCUS: Both of these young leaders have something in common with many activists, advocates and organizers out there. They are inspired and driven by a desire to help their neighbors. That is a core value which anyone doing moving work must have.
HOLLY: To put in the long hours required to do work for others that is meaningful and sustainable, you have to genuinely invest in the needs and interests of people around you, especially when you have little to nothing to gain personally from all that effort.
MARCUS: “Love Thy Neighbor” is a pretty popular concept in theory. In practice, you’ll find a lot of well-meaning folks don’t clear the gap to actually give that help, like a real good neighbor should. So let’s make like Mr. Fred Rogers and get more neighborly, shall we?
HOLLY: First up, we have King Williams, who is already well known around Atlanta as a writer and documentary filmmaker. Over the summer, he became famous for something else: heading up an initiative to take pizza, snacks, and water to people standing in long lines to vote. I became aware of this work because I was one of those people standing in a really long line to vote. Quick note: King quite literally never stops moving. He is always working on something and he was running an errand for a relative during our interview. So you might hear a little more background noise than usual. It’s a podcast, you’ll cope.
KING WILLIAMS: I am King Williams, documentary filmmaker, journalist here in Atlanta. I am a local Black man in Atlanta. And that is my organization.
MARCUS: Nice. To get us started with this, what led you into this work? Was there an inciting incident? Or is this like the arc of your life? Like, are there, is there a series of events or was there one particular thing that made you go, “Hey, I gotta get involved”.
KING: I’ve always been around, my mom was very politically active, my grandma before her. But the thing that got me active this year was seeing a lot of people in precincts around my neighborhood, dating back to 2018, be outright told that they couldn’t vote, people being turned away from their polling locations. And then this year I went, I saw more people back in June, who were also being told that they couldn’t vote, or even just outright seeing lines and not going, I live on the east side of Atlanta, like in DeKalb County on that side of it. And so there’s a woman in the wheelchair who I didn’t realize she was in her car. And they changed her polling location. And because of that, she was getting the runaround to drive in different places, difficult to find the parking space, getting out and getting in line. And at the time, I was a volunteer for a buddy of mine, B Wynn, who was running for office during the primary, I just quit on the spot,saying, Hey B, I’m not going to hold up your signs anymore. I thought to just help her, get her right polling location, get her the right people, and then make sure that she didn’t leave, you know that she actually went out and voted.
MARCUS: This moment, where a chance encounter drew King’s focus to the immediate needs of one person trying to vote, helped to shift his perspective to the fact that there were other needs that he and his friends could address. Long lines of hungry people who might be driven away by their basic human need for pizza.
KING: At that point in time, I just put it out on Twitter. And I tell people, “hey, this is my cash app, we’re gonna get people food so that they don’t leave the polls, we’re just gonna address some needs for people who are stuck in line for a while and hit me up if you want to be down”. And so that’s kind of how I roll from there. And the rest is history.
MARCUS: And so, how did the “Pizza at the Polls”, how did that evolve from the moment of like, “Hey, we need to feed people, keep them in line, give them one less reason to leave,” to becoming this much broader movement?
KING: It really kind of happened organically. The main thing is, I saw back in June, just some of the pros and cons of doing it on your own. Well, it wasn’t, I had like four people I went to college with, and I just brought it out saying, “Hey, you know, I know there’s gonna be a lot more people trying to vote.” And I wasn’t trying to make a movement, I was trying to reach a need. And so I just said, “Okay, you know what, no one’s gonna really address this need in the way that I think is conducive to people who actually live on my side of town who live in places that like none of the advocacy groups are going to. So that’s like DeKalb Counties or Clayton Counties, the non-gentrified parts of Atlanta. And so, let me be there because they have a different need and it’s not going to be addressed by necessarily just coming out and asking people questions. It’s like, “Hey, man, I gotta get time off. Can you hold the line for me? Until I get back” or you know, I can’t do that but like, “Hey, man, can you let me know when the actual right time to show up because I got to go to work and I got three kids.” So it was just like that. It wasn’t trying to make it a movement. It’s like hey, people need a different set of needs and let’s just get some people who are like minded to do the same.
HOLLY: Can you give us like a timeline of how that has grown from the primaries to the November election and now to the runoff?
KING: Yeah, so I picked pizza because I wanted something that would be, A: safe to eat during the pandemic, and then, B: like really accessible to pick up or deliver. Where I live at, mostly we don’t have like these gourmet pizza shops. It’s mostly like a Domino’s and mostly Black-owned. So I was like, all right, cool. If I’m gonna put some money up, I want to support a Black-owned business and it may be a franchise. So I knew Domino’s could deliver. I knew Pizza Hut had the capabilities to deliver out and so I legitimately just went to these places and said, Hey, walked into the store and said, “hey, can I talk to your manager. I’m looking to order 50 pizzas, I’m looking to order 100 pizzas, can you do that?” And they were like, “okay, cool, hit me up. Let me know.” How we built that was essentially us two things: I use my DMs on Instagram and Twitter, “direct messenger” for some of the other people who don’t know what that is. And then I also just used this straight up phone number. So I just set it up where me and my partner, Dan, and we just said, “Okay, these are all the numbers of people that we have. These are all the DMs we have. We’re going to send out one email to everyone who wants to be down and say, ‘Hey, if you want to be down, show up to this location and show up for this time, this is what we need to do.’ ” For some people need to go physically to the locations and scout and some people needed to be ready to pick up food from the pizza places if they don’t deliver it, because they typically don’t deliver like 50 and 100 boxes anymore like that. Some people needed to be there to set up and break down. Some people need to be back at our hub, which is where we operate out to, like, load things up, get things situated, be mobile, if we needed to. We knew we can get to any place that we needed to if we need to scale up, get more volunteers to scale down within 20 minutes and that was our goal. And so we just kind of built around that, like, if we were in a car, if we needed somebody to pick up and deliver to us, can it take 20 minutes or less? And that’s kind of what we did.
HOLLY: To help identify areas with a need for some hot food to take the edge off of waiting for upwards of an hour, King and his co-conspirators took publicly available data on polling place wait times and linked that data with a map of nearby pizza places. This allowed their volunteers to pick up and drop off boxes of cheesy goodness as efficiently as possible.
KING: On the day of, since we had everybody’s phone numbers, we had a text thread. So if Dan was like, “hey, I need four people to go out to Stone Mountain. I need two people to go out to Cobb,” looked at the GIS, saw something, text somebody the addresses that they needed, told them to go out and just took it from there.
HOLLY: This sounds like a heist movie. Like it sounds like you’re planning a caper, which is-
KING: I wish because we didn’t get any money.
KING: But you know.
HOLLY: So speaking of money, Pizza to the Polls was a huge success. Friends and neighbors from all over Atlanta, all over the country, poured in money to help feed folks standing in line and they had funds left over. King donated the leftover funds to Hosea Helps, another Atlanta institution. Here he is again telling us about his connection with that group.
KING: So Hosea Feed the Homeless is some organization I’ve known about since I was young. My mom knows Ms. Omalami, who is the director over there, since I was a young boy. And so I just tell people, anybody who donated whatever leftover funds, I’m going to donate some Hosea Feed the Homeless because Atlanta right now is experiencing another wave of homelessness. And one of the biggest issues with regarding homelessness in Atlanta is not only not having a place to stay, but also a dedicated facility that can feed homeless people where they are. And so Hosea Feed the Homeless, they have both a hub where you can donate food and then they also have the ability to drive out to where homeless people are and just feed them on the street. And so I knew that if we had something left over, it needed to go to them and so the moment we were done, I think November 4th, I just came over, took the rest of the funds and gave them directly to Hosea and it’s been really good. And so hopefully, with this new round of it, we’ll have a little bit left over, and I can donate to them again, because they really could use it. They’re a local organization. They don’t get a lot of help from like the traditional Atlanta non-profit donors. And so I think it’s really important to support organizations [that’ve] been doing it for a while that may not necessarily be the most polished looking, and things like that, or have, like, the nice brochures.
HOLLY: This is your third election cycle kind of in less than a year of doing this and doing it amid this rancorous political climate, doing it amid a pandemic. One of the things we’ve been asking everybody is how do you fight burnout?
KING: You know, if I’m gonna get burned out, it’s gonna be burnt out for something else, and not necessarily giving pizza to people at the polls.
KING: I think for me, it’s been easy to not avoid burnout because they’ve been staggered a bit. June is definitely not October, November. And then even this December election, there was a decent low for like two weeks or so we kind of already knew what the plan was on Election Day. So we already knew the runoff and we already knew what the plan was so we didn’t burn out as much. We just kind of knew what what was needed.
HOLLY: If folks hear this and want to help and we hope they do, what is the best way they could help get pizza and snacks to the polls? And same question also for out-of-state folks. What’s your most immediate need and how can our audience help get you the resources that you need?
KING: So my most immediate need right now is actually having volunteers. Even though we’re starting on Monday with Pizza to the Polls, we have a long early voting period and so, having physical people present will be a really good benefit and the reason why is because we need some people who are willing to drive out to sometimes outlying counties, maybe 30 minutes outside of Atlanta. Y’all see, sometimes people just pick up food and things like that and one of the other things about Pizza to the Polls is we’ve also donated a lot of food to homeless people within Atlanta. And so sometimes people may not be able to come out during the voting session but that evening, we’re passing out water and pizza to Atlanta’s homeless, we can also use you again. And if you want to donate, I have a cash app and a Venmo that people can also donate to. It is like $IAmKingWilliams on Cash App. And then IAmKingWilliams on Venmo. And just being there is the point but if you don’t have money, if you can’t be there, I think I would love for you to do is just kind of amplify the message that we’re talking about. I do it on Twitter all the time. Just amplify some of the things we’re talking about, which is about Atlanta’s planning, Atlanta’s history, and just really learning about what Atlanta is gonna need going forward, because it’s going to take a lot of us to be working together. And I hope that people do. And, you know, that’s my speech for President.
HOLLY: If we happen to get questions from listeners about where they can sign up to volunteer for Pizza at the Polls, who should they contact?
KING: They can contact either me or Dan. His Instagram and Twitter handle’s the same, like, it’s D Mal, so D is in Daniel, Mal as in Malcolm. But, it’s dmal91,
KING: On Twitter or Instagram.
MARCUS: As much time and energy as it takes, volunteer pizza delivery isn’t actually King Williams’ main gig. He is a writer, a filmmaker and a podcaster with a particular focus on the subject of gentrification in Atlanta. He directed The Atlanta Way, a documentary on gentrification, hosts a spin-off podcast called The Neighborhood Watch, and his newsletter on Substack, complete with its own book club, focuses on the intersections of politics, entertainment, business and urban development.
KING: iamkingwilliams.substack.com, it’s only fans for writers, I would appreciate it if you join and that’s where you can learn about the book club, history of Atlanta, advocacy work, donating to the homeless, it’s all there in my newsletter and you can also follow me on Twitter @IamKingWilliams or Instagram @IamKingWilliams as well.
MARCUS: Awesome. Well, thank you, King.
HOLLY: We’ve talked to a lot of terrific organizations during this series. And one reason I wanted to make sure we fit somebody like King into the rotation was that the idea of joining an organization or starting an organization can be pretty daunting. But all you have to do is anything. King is an interesting person to me because he saw a problem and he said “well, I can fix that,” and he tried to fix it, still tries to fix it, is trying to fix it right now. It’s an impulse that’s shared by our next guest, Mina Turabi, who is the state director for March for our Lives Georgia. She’s also the deputy state director for RISE Georgia and a college student.
MARCUS: March For Our Lives was founded in response to the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. It is now a nationwide organization that advocates for ending gun violence, lobbies for gun control legislation, and educates the general public about gun violence and how to end it. RISE is a nationwide student-led organization that works to make higher education affordable and accessible for everyone. We asked Mina how she began her journey as an organizer and activist.
MINA TURABI: I grew up in Augusta, Georgia and gun violence was always a prevalent thing in my community. You always heard somebody was killed this week, somebody was affected by gun violence and I guess it had always become like a norm like there’s nothing we can do to fix this problem. Well, after Parkland happened, all these activists rose to talk about gun violence and in a way that was very empowering, because we were like, well, if they can do it, so can we. I led the school walkout in my high school back in Augusta, and then eventually led on to go to the national march.
MARCUS: Inspired by the energy she had seen in DC, Mina returned to Augusta and focused her efforts on reducing the police presence in her high school.
MINA: My high school had 12 Safety Resource Officers yet we did not have a nurse and we didn’t have a college advisor and that was showing how the school-to-prison pipeline is real. So it was always a thing about changing my community and I feel like every time somebody asked me, “why do you do this work,” it’s because the work and the change that we want to see starts from the ground up. We can’t just go to the federal level and be like, “this is what we need changed” when we’re not even working for change in our community. I graduated high school, I came to Georgia State in Atlanta, started in March for our Lives here and eventually became the State Director last year. My mentors Trevor Wilde, he was my regional organizing director. Maxwell Frost, he was, he’s now our executive organizing director, all these people, these wonderful people I’ve had a chance to work with, kind of showed me the ropes of organizing because for me, it was always personal. It wasn’t just something I saw on TV. And I was like, well, maybe I should do this. It was seeing my best friend’s friend shot to death, it was seeing how racism affects the community that we don’t even talk about, you know, we talk about gun violence when a school shooting happens, or we talk about gun violence when there’s a mass shooting. But how many times in these conversations do we talk about the inner city gun violence? How many times do we talk about the kids that live in Atlanta, Chicago, in Augusta, in DC, that are affected by these things every day? It’s our daily living conditions.
HOLLY: Are you going to school full time and doing this?
MINA: Yes, I am a full-time biology student actually at Georgia State.
HOLLY: Oh, wow. What do you, what do you want to do after this? What are, what are your plans for after school?
MINA: After this, I want to get into lobbying work, gun violence, Medicaid, health insurance COVID. Everything is related. You know, you can’t talk about the issue of gun violence without talking about health insurance. You can’t talk about the issue of gun violence without talking about systemic oppression which this country is built on. So how can we fix a bigger problem if we don’t address the root side? [I] hope to get into lobbying against big pharma, against these companies that are actually inducing gun violence on these communities.
HOLLY: How did March For Our Lives come to decide to devote their resources to this particular election?
MINA: Well, in the 2018 midterms, we saw that we voted out so many people that were in the pockets of the gun lobby, that were more in tune with getting themselves paid, and not worrying about the fact that people are dying. We’re in the middle of a pandemic but gun violence has always been a pandemic that has infiltrated this country for years and years. So in the 2018 midterms, we worked to get rid of all these politicians and then we were like, “wait, this does not end here.” March For Our Lives is not a one election organization, it is not a one term organization. Just because these progressive people were voted in office doesn’t mean gun violence has ended. It’s still there. So 2020 came around. And we were like, well, this is what we need to do. We need to achieve the highest youth turnout in history and we did that. I’m proud to be from Georgia, because Georgia was the state with the highest youth turnout in the country. We’re the catalyst for change because in every election, we see this older generation going to vote but let’s be real, they’re not going to be around when all these situations, these problems are affecting us. If we want to end mass incarceration, we want to reform the criminal justice system, we want to end police brutality, we want to end gun violence, which police brutality is a type of, then we need change and the biggest catalyst of change right now, this year, was the election. So we put our resources and we got out the vote, we encouraged youth voters to turn out, we got them to the polls, we made sure they knew who was on their ballots, because a lot of people just vote because you know, their friends are voting for that person. But do they actually know who’s on the ballot? So it was a lot about educating people and a lot of young folks, especially here in Georgia, we’re out all summer long protesting. So how do we actually continue that change? How do we keep up the momentum and one way is voting, you know, we can’t let any resource get out of hand, if we have something that we can use, why not use it? And that was kind of the mentality that we acquired to go into the 2020 election.
MARCUS: And in your outreach to young voters? What does that look like? What is effective when trying to activate these young voters?
MINA: Well, first, just speaking on the issues, you know, relating to people, we call it “telling our story”. A lot of the times we don’t realize we share a lot in common with a stranger, you know, our stories show who we really are so telling our story first, and then relating to that person’s story and then getting that problem is like, well, we both agree that this is a problem. How do we fix it? And well, we fix it by voting and then you know, utilizing social media. We live in an age of technology when everyone’s on Instagram and TikTok and Snapchat. Well, why don’t we utilize this for a change? So getting out ads and putting out information where people can see it. An accessibility of information is the key and then fighting misinformation and then you know, your common tactic, cell phone banking, text banking, blood drops, getting out canvassing, showing these people that we’re out here, banner drops. I don’t know if you guys live in Georgia or Atlanta, but we dropped banners off of I-75, showing who’s out there, so…
HOLLY: How have these tactics helped you or have you had to adapt them for reaching folks outside the metro Atlanta area? Something that always comes up in my mind when I hear about protest marches is, you know, I grew up in a town of 27,000 people, you know, there’s not much of a march anywhere no matter what so how do you guys reach people who are, you know, outside our our little blue bubble here?
MINA: I love how you said “blue bubble” because I feel like a lot of people that live in Atlanta, don’t really realize how much of a bubble it is, you know, there’s a lot of issues that affect Atlanta, but it is way worse in rural and southern Georgia. It’s not that there aren’t people out there that believe in these issues and that want to fix it. I was one of those people, you know, in Augusta, I didn’t have all these resources to myself. So it’s about reaching out. It’s about using the tools that we have social media, you do one hashtag. And you see so many people that want to do the work, you reach out to them. You’re like, “Hey, I have the resources. I liked your voice. You have a passion? Why don’t we work together to create that change?” We know that Georgia has these people, we just need to tap into them.
MARCUS: Now looking at the work ya’ll have been doing this year, leading up to the November election and now coming into the runoffs, are there any specific lessons that y’all learned in the general election that are leading to adjustments going into these runoffs?
MINA: Yeah, so we live in a pandemic world, you know, we can’t just walk outside, show up to people’s houses in groups of 15 to 20 people and be like, “hey, you need to go vote, these are on your ballots.” So it’s about adapting and a lot of people are tired, you know, they’re tired of hearing about politics, because not everybody has the stamina for hearing about this 24 hours a day. And maybe that comes from a place of privilege but it also is like, “I’m just not interested in it.” It’s about adapting yourself, you know, people have been doing phone banks and text banks and they’ve been on these Zoom calls for help, like since March, you know, Zoom fatigue is a real thing. A lot of our phone banks take place on Zoom. So how do we make it interactive? How do we just not have that people start logging off? Because all they hear is low fi music and people phone banking? How do we keep them engaged? So you know, we invited celebrities, we started watching movies on Zoom, while we’re phone banking and text banking, to keep people engaged because our target is the youth, right? While also being part of the youth, I know that we have the attention span of a three year old, so keeping people engaged and not doing the same old, same old.
HOLLY: Yeah, I don’t think a lot of people realize, especially if you know, you’re like me, you’re in your 30s and when you grew up, volunteering for a campaign meant going to a cafeteria somewhere, sitting at a long table with like actual phones, and sitting there and talking through a script. And I don’t think a lot of people realize how fast the technology has advanced in this arena, and how much of it can be done from your cell phone and that you can do it while, you know, while the rest of your life is going on in the background.
MINA: Yeah, actually we use this thing called peer-to-peer texting and we sent 800,000 texts in the matter of seven days. We were sending out 15,000 texts every 20 minutes, technology can either work against you or for you. So why not make it work for you?
HOLLY: How many people did it take to send that many texts?
MINA: Like 25, 30?
MINA: We called it “election headquarters” because I was, you know, taking, writing scripts and sending them out and making sure that you know, people’s ballots are cured and people are staying in line and working the hotlines. And I’m like sitting here in my living room and I look to my phone and Trevor’s like, “we’re done.” And I was like, “what do you mean, we’re done? I launched the program 30 minutes ago, how do you mean we’re done.” And he’s like, “we’re done. There’s, there’s no more text to be sent, all conversations are done.” Because all it takes us is enter. All it takes is pressing yes, pressing “no opt out”.
MARCUS: And that side of stuff, still kind of blown away about them, the sheer volume of texts-
HOLLY: I know what you, we never get, they’re nice surprises when we’re telling these stories, it’s always, you know, when did everything go completely sideways?
MINA: It goes sideways too, it’s not always, you know, gonna work like in a perfectly oiled machine. A lot of times actually, when we’re text-banking, you’ll get like, vulgar messages, and you’ll get like, “I don’t care about you, I voted for Trump, and I’m gonna send the FBI to your house.” So it’s always a couple of things along the way but I’m really glad about how the program went out.
HOLLY: Can we spin this a little bit forward and look to the future? What are some of the keys, you think, to creating change that’s sustainable in the state and other states?
MINA: Well, it’s about holding people accountable because, let’s be real, politicians go in, they do the work for a year, and then it’s back to running for re-election. The thing they valued the most is their seat. Well, you have the power to take the seat away. We have a phrase in the march community called “our power” because it is our power. We held the power to take them out. We hold the power to put somebody in office that actually cares about us, because right now, you know, it’s 2020. [In] 2022, Georgia has another election. You know a lot of people my age are coming of age to run for office and if we can put these people in office that actually care about these topics and then actually passing legislation that works for us. That’s why this election is so important in Georgia, this runoff. It’s because we, we took Trump out of office, right? But right now we need to put people who put not themselves, not their pockets first, not the gun lobby first. It’s about people who care. It’s about people who are even, when they get to Washington, they’re going to be like, “okay, this person in rural Augusta cares about passing gun legislation. So maybe I should work for it.” And how do you get them to notice that? Well, if you don’t, two years later, I’m going to vote you out. And that’s, that’s that. One of my biggest, I think, success was we dropped a peace plan and it was called “A Legislative Agenda for a Safer Georgia” and it basically outlined everything that we need to do to reduce gun violence. But personally, my biggest victory, I would say, is making it here. I know that we as organizers, especially, we don’t take mental health very seriously. We, especially myself, my birthday was the same day as Brianna Taylor’s birthday. And I remember sitting here on, I came back from a protest on my birthday, and I just had a meltdown. And I was like, “it is so, I don’t know how to celebrate my birthday, because I have all this guilt.” She’s supposed to be here and that pushed me into a very, like, depressive mode and I would like to say my biggest victory is still being here and still doing this work because there was a very long part of my life where I had no intention of going to college, I had no intention of keep going, I had nothing. And I feel like in a way organizing saved me. It showed me that I have it. I have it bad and sometimes I have really, really bad days, but there are people whose voice, I can uplift by keep going and I think that’s my biggest victory overall.
MARCUS: Thank you for sharing that. That’s a message that a lot of people need to hear, that reminder that just sometimes just keep it going, and you’ll find your place. I really appreciate Mina sharing her personal struggles and how being part of a movement has helped her. Organizers have their own lives with ups and downs like everyone. Add to that, the weight of deep emotional investment in the lives of people affected most by the very systems these activists are working against and it can take a toll on emotional and physical health. But the work itself can also be a balm for the soul. The people who do movement work have long-held traditions of regular check-ins, self-care practices, and support from counselors and spiritual leaders. So if you are doing this kind of work, remember to check in with yourself and reach out to your comrades for support. Trust me, it’s there for you when you need it.
HOLLY: In this next portion of our conversation, Mina references the execution of Brandon Barnard on December 10. Hours after we interviewed Mina, Alfred Bourgeois was put to death. President Trump reinstated the federal death penalty earlier this year, breaking a 17-year ban on federal executions. Organizers in Nina’s line of work are staunchly against all forms of violence, as you might guess, including and especially that which is carried out by the government.
MARCUS: Looking back and, like, lessons that you’ve learned doing this, doing this kind of work, what’s something you wish you’d known when you first started? Or, as an alternative way of looking at it, something you just realized, you wish you would realize sooner?
MINA: Oh, wow, that is a deep question. I think I knew this, but I didn’t realize it. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Last night, when the execution took place, I was driving, and I saw it come up on my phone and I pulled to the side. And a wave of sadness just hit me. And I’m like, “we do so much. You know, we were doing so much and there’s so many people. But did we really do something?” And it’s just, then I texted Trevor, and I’m like, “Trevor, like this just happened. I don’t know how to feel about it. Like I’m feeling really, like I don’t know, like, are we actually doing something?” And he’s like, “change doesn’t happen overnight.” You know, you have to keep building at it. You know, it’s not going to be one day you wake up, there’s not going to be any inner city gun violence, there’s not going to be domestic violence. It’s not going to happen like that but you have to keep going and you have to take those victories. Whether it be, you know, an amendment on a bill, or just notifying someone of something that happened in Washington. It’s keep going and even like when Brianna Taylor’s murderers went free, I remember just sitting here and I’m like, “wow, like we did all this, you know, we were in these streets and we protested day and night and we signed petitions, and we took it to the White House and we took it to Washington and it still happened.” Well, change doesn’t happen overnight and we have to keep saying her name and we have to keep saying their names and we have to keep talking about it, talking about it is going to get it done, just not ignoring the problem.
HOLLY: So speaking of getting it done, if, if people at home listening to this show hear this interview, and they want to help your organization today, and we hope they will, what is your greatest area of immediate need? How can we help from here?
MINA: Well, right now, you know, we’re focused on the runoff. So that’s, that’s the number one thing that we’re focused on. So to anybody listening to this, I would say text GA to 954-954. Do that first, then head over to marchforourlives.com/ga, sign up for our phone banks. We’re running phone banks every single day starting this Sunday, leading up to Christmas Day and after Christmas Day, leading up to New Year’s and leading up to the election. Help us get the word out. If you’re in Georgia, check to see that you’re registered. Voter suppression is the biggest problem in every election here in Georgia. Make sure that you’re still registered. Research who’s on your ballot, make a voting plan, know where you’re going to vote and share it with your friends because everything helps get the word out. There’s no such thing as too many volunteers.
MARCUS: With the best ways for people to stay in touch with March For Our Lives, going throughout the runoff and then long after that, like what are your social media channels? What’s your best connectivity?
MINA: Our best connectivity right now is @MFOLGeorgia spelled out on Twitter, on Instagram. If you are so one of the users that uses Facebook, March For Our Lives – Georgia, we’re on that too and then to connect with nationals @AMarch4OurLives. We even have our own TikTok page so if that’s your speed, follow us on TikTok and stay in touch with us because this work is not done. November 3rd, it’s not done January 5th, it’s going to keep going till we don’t see this problem anymore.
HOLLY: We’d like to thank our guests, King Williams and Mina Turabi, for taking the time to speak with us. Whether or not you’re in Georgia, you can help send tasty treats and water to folks standing in line to vote. Just reach out on Twitter @IamKingWilliams. If you’re in Georgia, you can also volunteer to deliver these treats yourself.
MARCUS: And if you do go to volunteer in Georgia, you might see Holly out there.
HOLLY: It was a good time, it was really good to be out of the house on a beautiful crisp winter day. It was also nice to see human beings who I don’t live with, albeit from a safe distance and I gotta say nobody is ever upset to be offered a water bottle. It was, it felt kind of like being a florist for a day. Everyone’s always happy to see you. It’s a nice feeling.
MARCUS: You can sign up for updates on ways to support March For Our Lives at marchforourlives.com and find a chapter near you or support the work being done in Georgia. They also have a handy link at the top of their page to help you make a voting plan.
HOLLY: If you’re in Georgia, we encourage you to use resources like these and, as you will hear time and again during this race, make a voting plan whether you’re voting with an absentee ballot [or] early voting around Election Day. And speaking of which, seriously, vote as early as possible. January 5th is the last day to vote, not the only day you can vote. Once again, I would like to recommend going to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they have a ton of machines in and out, it’s very fast.
MARCUS: If you’re not in Georgia, you can still be a good neighbor by supporting organizations like the ones we featured.
HOLLY: You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram @groundgamepod.
MARCUS: For show notes, transcripts, or to contact us, go to groundgamepod.com and until next time, take care of yourselves and be good to each other.
JAZMINE JOHNSON: Our show is produced by the Ground Game: Georgia volunteer jambouree. Editing by Douglas Reyes-Ceron and Arlill Rodriguez. Our theme is by the tremendous Jonathan Sanford. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions. Designed by me, Jazmine Johnson. Nicole Mackie runs our social. Ground Game: Georgia is a production of unir.
HOLLY: Nobody is ever mad at being offered a pack of Nutter Butters while waiting to do their civic duty.