Largely seen as the one of the greatest achievements of the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act, or VRA, of 1965 enfranchised voters throughout America by outlawing measures taken by states to limit African American participation in the democratic process. The legislation was widely heralded as a colossal victory for communities of color and did more to empower African Americans than perhaps any law since the Fourteenth Amendment. Yet in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a critical provision of the law and effectively rendered a significant portion of the act toothless. Now, just months after the 50th anniversary of the VRA, renewed conservative efforts to limit voting rights demonstrate that the nation needs new laws to guarantee all Americans access to the most fundamental pillar of U.S. democracy.
Please join the Center for American Progress and the American Constitution Society for a panel discussion on the history of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the current state of voting rights in America. In Ari Berman’s new book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, he tells the moving story of the country’s transformation under the VRA and the long history of counterrevolutionary efforts to undermine it.
Copies of Ari Berman’s book Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America will be available for purchase—by cash only—at the event.
Angela Maria Kelley, Senior Vice President, Center for American Progress
Katie O’Connor, Director, Policy Development and Programming, American Constitution Society
Ari Berman, Author, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America; Political Correspondent, The Nation
Laughlin McDonald, veteran voting rights litigator; Director Emeritus, Voting Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), Member of Congress, Alabama’s 7th District
Julie Fernandes, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Foundations
Michele L. Jawando, Vice President, Legal Progress, Center for American Progress