True South

Advancing Democracy in the Black Belt 50 Years After Freedom Summer

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer, when civil rights activists traveled to Mississippi to register voters of color and unleash democracy across the state and the region. Fifty years later, the stretch of heavily black southern states that make up the so-called “Black Belt” are still defined by racial polarization. Despite the progress of the past five decades, black voters are often locked out of statewide politics.

CAP Senior Fellow Ben Jealous will lead a panel discussion on the demographic and political changes that are poised to shake up the status quo. How would a massive voter registration drive targeting people of color change the political dynamic? Is there an opportunity for another Freedom Summer?

Please join the Center for American Progress’ Progress 2050 project and the Southern Elections Foundation for a discussion of these questions and more as we delve into the state of the Black Belt today and what it could look like in the near future.

Opening remarks:
Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader, Georgia General Assembly

Derrick Johnson, President, Mississippi NAACP State Conference; National Co-Chair, Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary

Steve Benjamin, Mayor, Columbia, South Carolina

Saket Soni, Executive Director, National Guestworker Alliance and the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice
Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO, Voto Latino

Ben Jealous, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress


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