America is in revolt. Following the police killings of unarmed African Americans George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, numerous cities have erupted in mass protests against racism, police brutality, white supremacy, and inequality. We discuss racism and the uprising with Kiah Morris. She says, “Racism in Vermont looks like disparate outcomes for those with COVID-19. Racism happens within our schools where children are policed. Racism is death by a million cuts. Systemic racism is a continued assault on the humanity of individuals.” Morris served as a Vermont State Representative from 2014 to 2018 and was the second African-American woman in Vermont history to be elected to the legislature. She resigned in 2018 following racist harassment from a self-avowed white nationalist in Bennington, Vt. Morris is now Movement Politics Director in Vermont for Rights & Democracy.
Kiah Morris, former Vt. State Rep., Movement Politics Director in Vermont, Rights & Democracy
Kiah Morris was elected to the Vermont State Legislature from Bennington in 2014 and re-elected in 2016. She was the only female African-American Vermont state representative at that time. In September 2018, she resigned from the legislature in the wake of racist attacks from white nationalists. The shocking story of what happened to her was reported in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, BBC and other news outlets. In January 2019, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan announced that he would not bring criminal charges against the man who was harassing Morris and her family, insisting that racially offensive speech was protected. Civil rights groups including the NAACP and Justice for All denounced the decision and the Vermont ACLU called for an investigation of the Bennington Police for its “systemic racism problem.” Morris has continued to speak out against racism and misogyny both locally and globally. She was recently part of an Oxfam America delegation to Central America where she met with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Morris discusses her ongoing fight for justice. (December 11, 2019 broadcast)
Vermont Sen. Becca Balint and Rep. Kiah Morris are political trailblazers. Balint, the Senate Majority Leader, is one of the first women to be elected to Senate leadership and the highest ranking openly gay legislator in the state. Morris is just the second African American woman to serve in the Vermont legislature. In separate interviews, the two leaders talk about the “sea change” for women in politics in the wake of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, how they mix activism, advocacy and politics, and their personal journeys into politics. (January 3, 2018)
Vt. Senator Becca Balint, Windham County, Senate Majority Leader