Our story begins in 2017, when two bigoted resolutions and one bigoted bill were introduced during South Dakota's legislative session...
Our Executive Director, Taneeza Islam, was contacted by lobbyist friends in the state capitol about these bigoted pieces of legislation. She organized people to be present and heard during committee testimony in Pierre, and utilized social media and local news to inform South Dakota about these issues. Each time, people showed up to fight against the propaganda that tried to instill fear in our state about Islam, Muslims, immigrants, and refugees.
After 2017 legislative session, we witnessed a surge in Islamophobic and anti-immigrant, anti-refugee speakers coming to South Dakota.
These speakers are part of a national circuit of Islamophobia, xenophobia, and bigotry, and they came to SD to further sow seeds of hate and fear in our communities. Our group continued to meet, grow, and openly resist the imported hate in our state. SD had no organizations devoted to advocacy against Islamophobia and anti-immigrant/refugee activities, and none committed to empowering impacted communities to use their voices and become civically engaged.
So in October 2017, South Dakota Voices for Peace 501(c)(3) was incorporated as a nonprofit in the State of South Dakota. South Dakota Voices for Justice 501(c)(4), its sister organization devoted to lobbying and policy work, was also incorporated. Together, the two organizations work together on grassroots empowerment, building strategic allyship, and countering top-down legislated hate against Muslims, immigrants, and refugees in South Dakota.
SDVFP values community involvement, building, and collaboration. Our staff are involved in the following businesses and organizations in staff, leadership, and governing positions:
Pathways for Inclusive & Equitable Workplaces
Avera@Home Hospice & Avera Heart Hospital
Transformation Project Advocacy Network
Young Democrats of South Dakota
Equality South Dakota