Center for Media Justice home of the Media Action Grassroots Network

Fight For Our #RightToConnect

“There are no voiceless people. Only people that haven’t been heard, yet.”

Family on ComputerWe believe the right to communicate and therefore the right to transform our world belongs to everyone.  In today’s world, connection is a pre-condition of success.  Students need an Internet connection to finish their homework.  Organizers need access to social media in order to have their voices heard and mobilize communities to action.  Those in prison depend on phone calls to keep their relationships with their families strong.

Yet across the country, the right to communicate is being denied to millions of people.  There are 2.7 million children whose families can’t afford the cost of a phone call from their parents in prison.  There are 100 million people who lack an Internet connection at home because it’s too expensive.  This is especially true for poor communities, where 47% of households making $25,000 or less have an Internet connection at home. In the face of these disparities, it is critical we claim our right to communicate.

Right now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working on two issues that could dramatically help close the gap on some of these disparities.  First, the FCC is considering reforms to the prison telephone industry that would establish an affordable flat rate for all phone calls out of jails, prisons and detention facilities, ending a practice of price gouging.  Second, the FCC is planning on modernizing a low-income program known as Lifeline, which would help low-income families afford an Internet connection at home.

We want to urge the FCC to move forward on both of these issues, which is why members of the Media Action Grassroots Network are kicking off a “Right to Connect” initiative.  During the next few weeks, we’ll be educating our communities on Lifeline and Prison Phones and encouraging people to take action on both of these issues.  Our activities will culminate with a 10-person delegation that will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress and the FCC to demand they support our communities #RightToConnect.  Want to join us? Here are two quick things you can do today:

  • Sign our petition on lowering the cost of prison phone calls.  We’ll be hand delivering this petition to the FCC in early October.

Stay connected! To ensure you continue to receive current updates and upcoming actions, contact: Steven Renderos, [email protected]


About the Author

Steven Renderos is the Senior Campaign Manager at the Center for Media Justice. He is passionate about the role of media and communications in building movements for social change. He's been a community organizer for the past 10 years leading campaigns for affordable housing, immigrant rights and most recently media policy fights. He helped lead CMJ's advocacy and organizing efforts including the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, a national campaign fighting to lower the high costs of prison phone calls. Previously, Steven led the Media Justice program at Main Street Project in Minneapolis, MN where he helped jumpstart a local collaborative that will be applied for a radio license in the fall 2013. Steven aka DJ Ren is also the co-founder of Radio Pocho, a collaborative of [email protected] radio DJs in Minneapolis who's mission is to explore the musical roots of [email protected] raised in the United States. Steven currently resides in his hometown of Los Angeles, CA.

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