On a hot summer day last month in North Carolina, protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem to demand the right to vote for the state’s black citizens.
Inside the courtroom, Carnell Brown recounted his own story of disenfranchisement: Brown—a retiree who spent decades sharecropping cotton—had attempted to cast an early ballot in the last election but was turned away because of a new state law that drastically slashed opportunities to vote. When asked by attorneys whether the ability to vote was important to him, Brown simply stated, “I want to be heard.”
Fifty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, advocates like Brown are still fighting for access to the ballot. Even though the last two presidential elections had record turnouts, especially among young and nonwhite voters, progress has stalled and, in some ways, rolled back.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Root.
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