Decatur Sunrise Movement hosts phone banking events


Mauldin, pictured at the far left of the third row, is also involved in the National Sunrise Movement and the Climate Reality Project.

On Oct. 28, the new Decatur branch of the Sunrise Movement held a phone banking event campaigning for Tennessee senate candidate Marquita Bradshaw. 

This event comes a week after their inaugural event, which was also a phone bank for Bradshaw. Over 30 people participated in the two hour events, which featured training for making phone calls and allotted times for calling potential voters in Tennessee.

The Sunrise Movement’s website says that “person to person conversations are the #1 way” to campaign successfully. However, during a pandemic, each branch of the movement hosts events with phone calls, which are widely regarded as the next best option.

Sophomore Melissa Mauldin, one of the founding members of the club, shares that belief about the effects of phone banking. Mauldin added that while many students had already phone banked before, there was a “pretty extensive training” for beginners. 

Through the phone banking events, she hopes, the “people will come away with a positive impression of our movement.”

The Sunrise Movement is a national youth-led movement focusing on spreading awareness against the climate crisis. For that reason, the movement as a whole comes up with a list of endorsements using the Green New Deal as their main standard. 

The Green New Deal is a groundbreaking piece of legislation introduced by Ed Markey in the Senate and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House of Representatives. The plan would cost trillions of dollars and fund 100% renewable energy and thousands of employment opportunities.

Mauldin believes that Bradshaw is not only a Green New Deal champion but an optimal candidate for a variety of other reasons. “Bradshaw is a single mom, working class woman, and a lifelong community organizer,” Mauldin said. “She’s promised to fight for criminal justice reform, equitable access to healthcare and a public education system that serves all children.”

While Bradshaw is unlikely to win the senate seat over Republican candidate Bill Hagerty, she was able to win over the Democratic establishment candidate “due in part to efforts by the Sunrise movement in the primaries,” according to Mauldin. 

This Decatur branch of the Sunrise movement has not yet looked into candidates in Georgia, and chose an election for a separate state as their first ever focus since it had proximity and a potential for national implications by shifting the senate balance. “It doesn’t matter where you make calls from, we’re just going to be calling voters in Tennessee,” Mauldin said. 

In the future, the Decatur branch plans to host more local events. “Further down the road, our local hub will hopefully campaign and host phone banks for candidates in Georgia,” Mauldin said.

Depending on the outcome of the Nov. 3 election, the movement as a whole has different strategies. “We are anticipating that Biden wins but Trump might contest the results, so we are preparing to do socially distant demonstrations,” Mauldin said.

The Decatur Sunrise Movement has different plans in order to grow their membership and participation. “We have strategies for one on one recruitment, reaching out to friends, encouraging people who come to reach out to one other person,” Mauldin said. 

But Mauldin doesn’t think sheer numbers are what’s most important. “We start small but we’re trying to build a small, really strong base, and then branch out from there.”