October 6, 2015, 9:30am ET - 11:00am ET
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.
October 8, 2015, 10:00am ET - 11:30am ET
High-quality early childhood education has the potential to improve long-term life outcomes for all children. In order to learn, however, students actually have to be in the classroom. At the same time that the United States is expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities, alarming statistics suggest that these environments can serve as a point of entry to the school-to-prison pipeline, which most acutely affects African American children. For example, African American children represent 18 percent of all preschoolers but make up 42 percent of those suspended and nearly half of those suspended multiple times. Given the profound consequences that suspension, expulsion, and other zero-tolerance policies can have on very young children, it is time to change the national approach to preschool discipline. The growing movement to resist the criminalization of African Americans underscores the need to prevent schools from serving as a point of entry to the criminal justice system. The Center for American Progress and the National Black Child Development Institute will release a new report with recommendations on how to bring an end to preschool suspensions and expulsions.
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