Watch the new CBSN Originals documentary, "Grassroots in Alabama: An Emerging Women's Movement," Monday, March 26 at 8 p.m., 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET.
In the CBSN Originals documentary, "Grassroots in Alabama: An Emerging Women's Movement," we meet three women working to change politics from the ground up and learn what's inspired a new generation of activism.
Heather Brown, 42, is a first-time candidate running for a seat on the Baldwin County Commission in her home state of Alabama. That would hardly be national news in itself, but she's part of an emerging grassroots movement of women getting engaged in politics in ways they hope will lead to lasting change.
"We haven't had a strong Democratic Party in Alabama in probably 30 years," Brown said. "Looking at my ballot, there was no choices. Why do I not have choices?"
She's one of nine Democrats — five of them women — now running for office in a county where the party hasn't had local candidates on the ballot in more than a decade.
The turning point for Brown came last fall, when she organized a protest against Republican senate candidate Roy Moore, who'd been accused of sexual misconduct. Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones in a race watched nationwide.
"It was the spark that lit the flame," she said.
Brown is getting campaign advice from a volunteer consultant, Hahn Hua, who recently moved back home to Alabama after years of living in Boston and working abroad.
Hua, whose parents immigrated from Vietnam 25 years ago, knows she's got her work cut out for her in Alabama politics.
"Actually when I consulted for the state party this summer, sometimes I wished I was Republican. I was like, 'Oh, infrastructure! Organization!' I wish I had that. But we'll slowly get there," she said.
It starts with building a bench of candidates to run for local offices.
"I've always believed that one person can make a difference," she said.
"I'm a big conservative," said Katrina Hardy, a proud Republican and Trump supporter from Loxley, Alabama.
Despite their political differences, she and Heather Brown are the best of friends. They've bonded over shared family experiences — both have kids the same age, and husbands with disabilities.
Hardy works in health care, mostly with the elderly, and her concern about that issue motivated her to turn out and speak up at a recent town hall meeting, something she'd never done before. She told us she wants to get involved and "do something in the government that's positive for everybody in America."
But don't mistake her for a progressive. As she puts it: "I think all of the progression is not great. I think some of it is confused with obsession."