For much of our history, not all Americans could vote: women, for example, or former slaves and their descendents. Today, 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law, access to the ballot box is still an unsolved issue. Voter disenfranchisement of minority communities is pervasive, from North Carolina to Texas to the halls of the U.S. Capitol.
In this episode, New Republic senior editor Jamil Smith discusses the voting rights struggle with Dale Ho, the director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, and Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and the author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Dale explains why Rick Perry’s stance on strict voter ID measures makes no sense, and Ari provides an in-depth explanation of the presidential elections that got us to the precarious place we’re in today.
Later in the show, Jamil checks in with an important someone from the neighborhood where he grew up on the east side of Cleveland: Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator and an outspoken voice for strengthening the VRA. They discuss how women’s rights, ballot access, and the black community intersect: When one is attacked, all three are weakened.
Finally, Jamil honors another milestone: the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson.
Want to learn more about the fight for the vote? Voila!
- A Dream Undone, by Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times Magazine
- President Obama’s Letter to the Editor (in response to “A Dream Undone”), by President Barack Obama in the New York Times
- The Voting Rights Act Is 50 Years Old. In North Carolina, Its Legacy Hangs in the Balance, by Greg Sargent in the Washington Post
- The Lost Promise of the Voting Rights Act, by Ari Berman in The Atlantic