Skip to main content

tv   Commission on Civil Rights Meeting Part 2  CSPAN  August 22, 2017 1:13pm-2:08pm EDT

1:13 pm
>> we are back on track for our presentation. returned to our historical presentation perspective on 52 years of the voting rights act.
1:14 pm
president johnson signed the voting rights act of 1965 into law 52 years ago this month on august 6, 1965, and it's widely considered to be the most significant and successful pieces of civil rights legislation enacted and has been used to combat voter suppression tactics targeting communities of color and limited english proficiency voters. i'm proud to highlight the commission's role in creation of that landmark legislation. in the years leading to the passage of the voting rights act the commission held a number of hearings and issued reports on voting rights abuses. march, 1965, president johnson called to the new voting legislation embodying the recommendation of the commission and in the state of south carolina versus cason back the supreme court rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of the 1965 voting rights act relying on data published by the commission. since our first report on voting issues in 1959 we have issued 20
1:15 pm
reports on voting rights, most recently last fall on issues with the national rodent-- voting registration act. voting continues to be a central part of our charge and work and i also know today august 18, march the 97th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the u.s. constitution giving women the right to vote. as my mother and grandmother have often reminded me, people died for the right for people like me, black people and women to vote. that right is precious, fundamental and it's my deep this honor to safeguard it here. we are so grateful today to have with us historians who bring a wealth of knowledge about this history of voting rights in the us. one of our historians has not yet arrived. underlie did our second is here and we will begin with her, professor maryellen kirton, sissy professor at american university and specializes in voting rights.
1:16 pm
after receiving her phd in history from duke university professor kirton worked at universities across the country and abroad while lecturing on american history and focusing-- focusing her research in 2010 she was awarded multiple public policy fellowships with the woodrow wilson scholarship in hand-- here in washington dc. her first book was a study of convict labor in the new south and her forthcoming book, reaching for power, barbara jordan and the politics of race and sex in america recounts the life of barbara jordan, first black woman elected to congress from a southern state picked the book will highlight her key role in the 1975 voting rights act reauthorization bill and her long history of campaigning for women. just want to give the biography
1:17 pm
of transfer to-- alexander keyssar. harvard trained historian specializing in voting rights and election law history as well as comparative working-class history and before joining the harvard faculty he taught at duke, brandeis and mit. his acclaimed book, the right to vote contested history of democracy in the us details the history of the franchise from the american revolution to the 21st century. examines voting rights against the backdrop of various social dynamics including changes in economic development, immigration class relations to identify movements. he-- it has received praise from academics and audiences and was awarded recognitions for best book on us history from the american historical association and historical society. we look forward to hearing from our speakers and i turn to the
1:18 pm
commissioners. >> good morning and welcome to both of our historians. thank you for joining us today. when i think back to 52 years ago and selma, alabama, and the bridge that brave nonviolent citizens put themselves on for this right we are discussing today i think about it as a bridge that took people across a river, but i also think about it as a bridge that took a society from one state of affairs of exclusion to a need and demand that the nation live up to its promises in the constitution and when president johnson went before dual session of congress to announce that he would be moving a voting rights act bill i considered to be one of the most important civil rights speeches that has ever been given in our country's history and i commend that to all listening today to go back and
1:19 pm
listen to the video or read those words because they had residents today just as they did and moved to the congress and the nation on the strength of the demonstration made in selma and elsewhere that the right to vote has-- as the supreme court has says is preservative of all other rights, so it's important today that we hear from two people who know this history, who have chronicled it, studied it, shared it with students and others in the nation and we are delighted to have both of you with us today to share with us a bit about how we have come to this point and a bit about the history of a voting we need to remember and hold at the four most of our attention. thank you. >> professor keyssar, we will start with you first. welcome. your microphone is not on. >> can you hear me now? let me begin by thanking you.
1:20 pm
it's an honor to be invited to speak to this group. i will do my best here. i apologize for getting here late. i was actually lost in this building in several different parts of this building. >> i don't want to tell you what good company you are in. [laughter] >> frankly, i felt like an idiot anyway, here i am. what i thought i could most usefully do given the work i have done would be to make comments about the long sweep of voting right history in the us and then try to locate the voting rights act in that long streak and bring it into talking about this-- or suggesting for discussion. the me begin by talking about broad patterns in history, voting right that may or may not be evident to everyone here, but
1:21 pm
let's begin with the founding, that original sin of the constitution is that the founding fathers separated suffrage from citizenship. there is no right to vote in the constitution and they did not tie to citizenship, something which by the weight in any modern constitution in the world written in the last 80 years is done and is automatic, but they separated it, not for reasons of principal or political theory. it had to do with the pragmatic politics of constitutional ratification in the 1780s could they were afraid any standard they picked would annoy someone so they might not vote for ratification. we start there and obviously decentralize the suffrage rights with immense consequences because the states are free within limits that are opposed to disenfranchise people that
1:22 pm
any given state would like to disenfranchise. that's proposition one. number two, history of voting rights since the founding and despite our most baroque images of our country has not been one of continuous expansion and enlargement. although, on balance there has been progress with a chronology that reveals there have been periods in state and nationally when the franchise has contracted as well. this is varied by state. it's a broad set of patterns. expansive period from 1790 to roughly 1870, 15th amendment, but even there there are exceptions. african-americans have been disfranchised in most northern states to tween 1790 or between 1800 and 1850. women could vote in new jersey for a while until they couldn't.
1:23 pm
poppers and others who are dependent on the state lose the right to vote. still, this is expansive period. and then there's a broad period of contraction from 1870-- 1870s into the progressive era north and south. period when voting rights contract. the southern story is well known. we do know this, but no harm to be reminded again. there's also a northern story in which immigrant workers lose the right to vote due to what we now call voter suppression, putting obstacles in the path of the voters. by the way, there are two periods if you do word search, the 1880s is one peak of the phrase vote suppression and
1:24 pm
recent years secondly. you have a contraction period, broad expansion from world war ii into the early 1990s. another big period of expansion and then i would argue we are now living in a period of contraction of voting rights. a number of different signs of that even though it's an era of formally ideologically: french but-- enfranchisement i think this is a time when it's more under threat than office at. with this reveals is you take seriously the notion that it's not an upward path, but that it's up and down. one thing it reveals is the history of democratic rights in the history of conflict is always a history of conflict. almost always some people who oppose the enfranchisement of others. they'd-- not everyone wants everyone to purchase. second, people have periodically
1:25 pm
as the right to vote either through outright disenfranchisement or through what we now call voter suppression. there's a difference between the two, but in some sense of voter suppression is what you want to do when you want to disenfranchise people. third point, the conflicts and patterns of exclusion have always been a long the lines of race, class for longtime gender. no one has ever attempted to disenfranchise upper or even middle-class white males, simply hasn't happened. lesson from their, if you take the pattern seriously is if you want to preserve voting rights you have to protect them. it's not automatic. here one can think of justice ginsburg's reference in the shelby case in her dissent to--
1:26 pm
it's like getting rid of your enbrel or because you are not getting wet. you need the protection. let me shift the spotlight to the voting rights act to locate this also may be a somewhat broad perspective. first, the subtitle of the voting rights act is something we always have to keep in mind which is its an act to enforce the amendments. 15th amendment had been on the book for a century when the act passed to enforce it. the voting rights act is not legislation dealing with a new problem. it's dealing with a problem at least a century old. of the idea of passing a federal law that would throw the weight of the government behind enforcing the 15th amendment was not new and lets me mention our history again may be known to some, not others.
1:27 pm
the voting rights act had a precursor. it was called the federal elections bill of 1890. it looked a lot like the voting rights act. it was also known by its opponent as the large force bill it was passed by the house and killed in the senate narrowly by filibuster. it would have sent marshals into the south and that a lot of what the voting rights act did pick the need for something like that was apparent in 1890. it came very close to being passed. imagine how our history would have been different if the voting rights act had been passed in 1890. although, how close that decision was and we celebrate the importance of the voting rights act and rightly so, we tend to regard it in retrospect as a national commitment, but we
1:28 pm
have to remember there was a filibuster of the voting rights act. the filibuster was overcome by only three votes. that history could have turned out rather differently, also. i think we also need to keep in mind another dimension that i want to put on the table is that strong opposition to renewal of the voting rights act occurred in 1970, just five years after. there was a major battle in congress over this and at the heart of that battle was the desire of many southern members of congress as well as the nixon administration and some conservatives from elsewhere, what they wanted to do was to get rid of the preclearance provision, the renewal in 1970. the house actually passed a such a measure and it took a lot of negotiating on members of the senate to present it from
1:29 pm
happening. again, in context that means it's a decision in shelby achieved the goal which is getting rid of the preclearance provision thahe goal which is getting rid of the preclearance provision that had been on some agendas for more than 40 years. of this wasn't an idea that suddenly popped up. it had been around for quite a while and was on some people's minds and when you look at the federal elections bill to shelby you have more than a hundred years of struggling with the same issues which the basic question of what should the federal government do to prevent states from denying rights to some of their own inhabitants. a few final comments about the present and, i mean, these to be suggestive and hopefully to provoke some discussion, which is about why we seem to have entered a new period in recent years.
1:30 pm
there are multiple reasons and i went to suggest a historical framing. there are of course, partisan reasons about why this happened. .. discussion, which is about why we seem to have entered a new period of contestation in recent years. and there are multiple reasons. i want to suggest a certain kind of historical framing to it. there are, of course, partisan reasons about why this happens. this is true about our history, political parties, shockingly sometimes act in their party's interest and not in the nation's interest. it's true of both parties historically. the right to vote. the first was protraction took place in the week of a major expansion of the franchise act in america, in the wake of
1:31 pm
reconstruction, after reconstruction. after passage of the 15th amendment. second, it was a period of high rates of immigration. particularly high rates of immigration, people who are regarded not as similar. as opposed to migrants, in the pre-civil war period. with immigration and empowerment in some places the nation witnessed the passage of innumerable state laws to limit the power of african-americans and immigrant workers. literacy tests, details of registration requirements, proof of citizenship laws that have shown up in recent years.
1:32 pm
all of these appear in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and worked in a lot of places not just in this house where we do know, but the less well-known is new york state for example passed in english language literacy requirement to vote in 1921 and remains on the books through the 1960s making it impossible for puerto rican born spanish-speaking residents of new york of whom there are hundreds of thousands, the parallels to our recent history are quite evident. we are living in a period that follows a period of growth of african-american participation and enfranchisement after the voting rights act under development in the 1960s and have been seeing large ways of immigration this time, also from a different new place and from mexico and central america and
1:33 pm
this is followed by another wave of legislation designed to put obstacles in the path of people trying to vote. i don't think that is something, these historical parallels, something we would likely want to talk about. thank you very much. >> marry ellen curtin? >> thank you for having me here today. i want to talk about barbara jordan and expansion of the voting rights act in 1975 and her role in that. july 25, 1974, congresswoman barbara jordan said the following about the u.s. constitution. i can't say it is she did but i will do my best was when that document was completed on september 17, 1787, i was not included in that we the people. i felt for many years george washington and alexander hamilton just left me out by mistake but through the process
1:34 pm
of amendment, interpretation and court decision i have finally been included in we the people. america's history of slavery and white supremacy and change to racial inclusion, equality, gave jordan a special stake in making sure the constitution was upheld. my faith in the constitution is complete and total and i am not going to be an idol spectator to the diminution, subversion, destruction of the constitution. when jordan spoke those words the nation was in the midst of an impeachment crisis, one year later, in summer of 1975, president ford had taken the place of the disgraced richard nixon but jordan and others in congress believed the nation faced another potential crisis,
1:35 pm
one that threatened to undo the most important piece of legislation to come out of the civil rights movement, the voting rights act. the 1965 act was a key part of amendment interpretation and court decision jordan had referred to, allows registered voters, section 5 of that act place changes in voting procedures in six southern states and portions of several others under oversight of the justice department. before the voting rights act there were only 72 black elected officials in the entire south. by 1975, there were 900. by opening registration and scrutinizing safe practices the voting rights act was beginning to transform american democracy but it was due to expire on august 6, 1975. jordan was determined not only to resume the act but expand it to permanently ban literacy tests, incorporate language -- include the state of texas under the oversight provided by section 5 and extend for 10 more years.
1:36 pm
many seasoned politicians and lobbyists believed expansion was a risky strategy that might cause the bill to fail altogether but over the objections of many texas politicians and congressman jordan's joined forces with representative herman didio of new york and pushing through a bill that renewed the voting rights act and set it on a new course. asked me to speak about historical context of why jordan supported the voting rights act and to include the state of texas and language minorities but in order to do that, have to step back a few decades in america and step back to the 1940s. barbara jordan was born in houston, texas in 1936 in a stable, working-class baptist family and she learned about politics at the good hope missionary baptist church located in houston's fourth ward otherwise known as friedman down. until she left houston to attend law school in boston jordan grew up listening to the preaching of
1:37 pm
one individual, reverend albert lucas, 6 feet tall, stout, with a commanding voice, lucas was an ordained minister educated at fisk university. during the great depression lucas was asked to leave the flock of good hope and he built up a 2000 member strong congregation, the new stone church that dominated a few city blocks, reverend lucas along with his wife turned good hope from an acorn to an oak. lucas 5 for racial equality, joined the naacp and in june 1941 invited an annual convention at good hope. hundreds attended the session each day and the theme to that year, voting rights. the naacp secretary walter wright made one of the most moving speeches referring to a young black man who had been
1:38 pm
lynched just two days before in neighboring conroy county, he thundered not only was bobwhite killed but the law was slain. we are believers and practical democracy, he said. we want to help stop hitler because we hate hitler is them but we hate hoover is him more than some other americans because we hate hitlerism not only in nazi germany but in texas. politicians lifting out of self-interest, use of racism to win elections and raise whites and he said that is white is so important the president fight against the white primary should he win. the white primary was extremely effective. if they pay their poll tax blacks in texas could vote in the general election but could not vote in the democratic party primaries because the party was allowed to exclude black voters from membership. for many black voters with limited education this was a
1:39 pm
confusing situation, the library and from the good hope church recalled because a lot of people said we are paying the poll tax and voting, they did not realize there was anything wrong so reverend lucas brought it to the forefront, they have chosen the candidate, your vote does not count. it does not mean anything. that is what he kept hammering on. he would say primary control by state writers and these men and they are not alone. legal arguments at the white primary, had gone nowhere. the naacp convention revived the fighting spirit of reverend lucas, lonnie smith sued county officials for the right to vote in the primary. over the next few years lucas pushed good hope's working-class
1:40 pm
congregation to raise their voices for democracy by emptying their purpose, chauffeurs and workers in the houston ship channels, $150,000, and the naacp arguing against the white primary and supreme court. and the supreme court decided it would be all right
1:41 pm
political scientists chandler davidson called antidemocratic contrivances hugely impacted the black voting in texas. these devices included the poll tax, annual registration, at-large elections, gerrymandering, exorbitant filing fees, violence, and economic intimidation. the impact of these practices had meant to squash the, quote, effective political participation on the part of lower income people in general and negroes in particular. the democratic party was still run by those opposed to black equality.
1:42 pm
discouraged citizens withdrew from voting and were sometimes accused of complacency. under such circumstances, certain of defeat, who would be brave enough, bold enough, to run for office? well, in 1959, barbara jordan returned to houston after finishing la under such circumstances, and sh and finishing law school at the age of 23. pastor texas and joined a coalition of liberal legal organized and latino activist sought to change the democratic party on its recent past. and she was great with recruitment. she would make a speech and we have volunteers running out of their, people volunteering to be registration clerks and results were phenomenal. for 15,000 black registered voters.n
1:43 pm
we want up with 60,000 registered to vote. jordan had some goals, get kennedy elected and make black voters a powerful block with coalition. she joined statewide effort ton overturn the colfax colorado houston operation and got many volunteers from her church, good hope, to go door-to-door. manyla of these same pole worke became her supporters. and she lost. in texas, at-large voting replaced the white primary as one of the obstacles to electing black representatives. blacks could vote in the primaries that under the at-large system, comprised of 1 million people. black voters came out for her the size of the district they were two small minorities to elect their candidates. st here she is testifying before congress. my first attempt to become a member of the texas house of representatives was thwarted for the discovered voting practices forbidden by the voting rights
1:44 pm
act.lost and and in those districts. they lost and lost again in 1964. i could not get elected in the at-large election. jordan was searched, she could not get elected to the texas house and only one seat for the texas senate because urban areas like houston with large population were given the same numberti of representatives as rural areas with small populations but in 1966 the texas legislature was forced to reapportion itself and the united states supreme court applied the one man one vote rule district, population rather than area determine the number of representatives and houston was reapportioned creating a new single-member state senatorial district where jordan lived.rdan she ran and she won. after the supreme court ruling h
1:45 pm
would have lost again she testified.nt jordan never forgot the differences single-member district had made to her life and constituents. we needed a victory, this is the only way, don't see anything, we don't win. a victory in the state house will do more to help the negro recognizes voting strengthadsse anything i can think of. when she made it to congress she was determined minority candidates should no longer be thwarted by at-large districts and other discriminatory practices. when the 94th congress reconvened in early 1975 to start a new session the inclusion of language minorities were not part of the draft plan for the renewal of john edwardsa chair of the civil rights subcommittee and with 7-month left until expiration of the act, clarence mitchell, lobbyist for the naacp supported renewal without change, he wanted to avoid a battle that might
1:46 pm
endanger the law altogether. jordan thought differently. after talking it through with legislative aides she decided she was going to push for texas to be included in language minorities to be protected under the act. on february 19, 1975, she introduced legislation extending provisions of the voting rights act of 1965 to include texas, new mexico, arizona and colorado. her bill would guarantee mexican-americans residing in southwest and blacks and mexican americans i in texas, same protection of voting rights afforded to blacks in the south. all forms of voting discrimination suffered by blacks in the south were being suffered by mexican americans ir the southwest. the most egregious violations happened in texas and it was more than lack of biracial balance, when mexican americans tried to register in one town they were told the register ran out of printed forms, polling prices were located in white
1:47 pm
only acspaces, there were instances where mexican americans ballots were challenged for no cause and evidence in later testimony of mexican american voters and activists of inc. economic banishment and suffering violence as a result of running for office. jordan propose the following triggers. jurisdiction would be covered by the voting rights act if less than 50% of eligible voters were registered to vote and second is 5% of eligible voters are in a single mother's home other than english and under w that conditn all of texas be placed under the preclearance provision section 5. jordan got the congressional black caucus to support the bill but real opposition of the civil rights subcommittee. what amendment would have excluded texas on the ground that suddenly state legislature had hurried up to pass the bilingual ballot law. jordan was not impressed. we need more than bilingual ballots, that won't solve the problem of political, economic
1:48 pm
and other forms of discrimination. knowing they could appeal to the justice department is a lifeline hispanic, they need the psychological, spiritual and emotionalyc boost. comes from knowing you have a form for correction of abuses.vl another amendment by charles wiggins would have allowed states to escape coverage under the act, 50% of blacks voted in the previous election. jordan looked at wiggins and said over 50% black turnout did nothing to affect discriminatory problems such as school boards which have been abolished or reduced to prevent minority membership. smalltime member districts, polling places removed without notice and annexation by cities and counties to die for it minority votes. the issue at hand was not solely about voting. the voting rights act was about whether votes cast by minorities
1:49 pm
were meaningful, fair and led to real representation. jordan took time to sit down personally with every member of the texas delegation and explain to them what this meant in factual terms and help them understand from a policy point a view why she was doing this. according to her aid all she was saying was know what you are talking about and if you debate me on this i will run all over you. in effect she was also telling them it is important to me. after 13 days of hearings and 48 witnesses the house had jordan's version of the bill and the new york times noted in a congressional season most noted for its failed promises at least one measure passed by the house, extension enlargement and enlargement of the voting rights act stamped out was a memorable achievement. in july, senate democratic leaders faced a bitter dispute with legislators in the senate.
1:50 pm
the opposition including strom thurmond accused the bill supporters of using steamroller tactics to get it approved but mostly noted ultimately the bill passed overwhelmingly in the house and senate with bipartisal support. today we might look back and think if only we could achieve racial equity by abolishing the white primary or elections by legal ballot how simple that would be but circumstances change and history shows with h every step forward new and more sophisticated methods of voter suppression can and will emerge. barbara jordan worked for the right of minorities to vote, and for those votes to be meaningful and minorities to be protected by the constitution. for barbaraa jordan the voting rights act, is essential to herr vision of what the constitution demanded if everyone indeed was going to be included in we the
1:51 pm
people.ll ope >> thank you very much, marry ellen curtin. open for questions from my fellow commissioners. vice chair. >> i think both of you for joining us. i have been absolutely mesmerized by all that you have said. turning to you, marry ellen curtin, we are indeed living in as some would say interesting times. i am curious, if you have any thoughts on what barbara jordan might say, given the issues we are now facing in terms of voter suppression.wh you alluded to the fact the techniques of what we are seeing are more sophisticated. i wonder if you mind offering
1:52 pm
thoughts on what she might say. >> it is intimidating to think about how she would respond, but she would draw on her own history and the broader history of voter suppression going back to the white primary coming important that people thought job done. now we can help elect the candidate but that wasn't the case at all because other measures then emerged. people electing representatives of their choice. for her, i think, it was always the constitution demanded protection for people, that they would be able not just to vote because voting can happen in very oppressive regimes. the idea that the vote needed to be meaningful and it needed to show, allow people to elect t representatives of their choosing.
1:53 pm
however she would support it. >> commissioner narasaki. >> thank you, madam chair. i appreciated your effort to try to cram the history of voting into only a few minutes, quite a challenge. i just want to note there is another way people were prevented from voting and that was simply by not being allowed to be a citizen. with native americans who were citizens, not citizens and my grandmother who for over 50 years after she immigrated is s not allowed to become a citizen because she came from japan so i think that is important to note, ever inventive ways, to keep all its people from being able to
1:54 pm
vote. i also wanted to ask marry ellen curtin a question. one of the first things i did when i came to washington was work on the 1992 amendment to the voting rights act, specifically expansion of section 203, not surprisingly latinos were covered, at the time when in the 1970s the asian american population was fairly small i am wondering if you have any insights how asian americans came to be covered. >> included under the 5% trigger depending where they lived. >> they were covered but expressly named because the trigger only affects named groups. how do they become one of those named groups? >> it had to do with again when
1:55 pm
they first did the trigger and ran the numbers, a lot of language groups turned up weren't supposed to or people who had not previously experienced discrimination like french-speaking folks, they had to limit it somehow so certain language groups it wasn't spanish-speaking, it was also difficult because for the first time you were designated specific groups which the voting rights act hadn't done before.n it was these triggers and didn't have a specific race so i think it was through negotiation they didn't want to make a too broad but wanted to include california was a concern. that is an excellent question and i will dig more deeply on top of that list. who knows what negotiations took
1:56 pm
place. and and others were more open. >> thank you for your presentation. to the extent that voting, one of absent flows, a unidirectional march forward. and what the responses have been that helped to turn the direction from a retreat to greater inclusion and separateln some of your writings focused on and often overlooked point that expansions in voting sometimes
1:57 pm
followed military conflict in war to the extent we have been in a sustained period of military conflict i'm wondering if the present circumstance you describe against the historical pattern is a discontinuity, right now we are not increasing or expanding but retreating andd separately for marry ellen curtin i am fascinated by the fact we have marched through the white primary president, lbj after all, barbara jordan, northwest boston case, a federalist decision this week in texas. why is texas so centrally situated in the american story of voting? i put those questions to our existing which panelists for their views. >> let me start with the war issue.t for those who have not mastered
1:58 pm
this, one of the arguments of the book i wrote about this is every major expansion of the franchise that occurred in the united states occurred during or just after a war, every single one.y to explain the pattern, it may should light on what is happening, and recruited an army, a number of incidents in the course of us history where starting with the war of 1812, the militias, we come together to fight and not letting us vote because they had property requirements.ig basically threatening not to fight. war requires mobilization and mobilizing for them in a certain
1:59 pm
amount of civilian support, that is the case for world war i, if you have to pass a war measure. there was to melt not far from here, what we are seeing, disturbing and a number of ways, in recent years the united states has been engaged in prolonged wars without popular mobilization. we have a volunteer army.up without much in the way of mobilizing citizen support. it is different from the historic banner. and worrisome. on your first question, i will
2:00 pm
turn it over. the first question made it possible, the period of s reversals to fight back what are shocking questions in this day and age. there is no unusual magic bullet, people start organizing each and use the courts and the other dynamic that occurs, this is a dynamic we are going to see, and have to do
2:01 pm
mobilization, there is a partisan dynamic, in suppression, but can be turned. what happens there, if you are a political party engaging in a strategy of making it tough for certain kinds of people to vote, you might continues that for a wild, but at some point, population changes and demographic changes you might think those people who every they are plugging in different categories are going to get the vote anyway, they might put obstacles in their path. is a dynamic, that will happen in texas, that will happen in north carolina because they are
2:02 pm
not -- for a while. partisan switch dynamic.wa i wish i could say there was some magical insight that gave us a straightforward step forward but i don't see it. a major mobilization for war will do it but -- >> the other case, the texas case, the register, which the supreme court said you can look at outcomes. voting can be racially discriminatory. that came out of houston as
2:03 pm
well. that also involved jordan and her senate district. why do these cases come out of texas? interesting question. a lot has to do with class, even though jordan came from a working-class community, a lot of wealthier african-americans particularly in houston who at the turn-of-the-century took the booker t. washington idea of a bargain very seriously and they focused on community and used that money to buy very expensive homes and other institutions in houston. of i also think it helped to build up the stability and independence of the black community and you had unions in texas which is extremely important and african-americansi in unions and working in jobs in
2:04 pm
the shipping channel so i think the combination of employment and economic independence among the elites and working classes helped to fuel a sense of not just we are citizens but we deserve the franchise and we are going to fight this thing because the fight against the white primary goes back to the 1920s and people have been trying for two decades before hi the smith case to overturn this thing. they had the money and citizenship and entitlement to pursue it. in terms of why they continue to come out of texas the legislature, to do more than it needed to do so people went to the courts in order to force them and you had no shortage. liberals who really did create a very
2:05 pm
special alliance with blacks and latinos in this period. it is a very vibrant period of coalition politics and jordan as out of that tradition well. so it it has to do with economic opportunity prosperity that gives people both the ability to pursue these cases in the courts and to also sustained them over time. >> could i just give one more element of an answer to one of your questions to me? i been thinking about it. which is, another, you know,s approach that it has been important has been amending the constitution. i say this, i know it's not an easy thing to do but i figure
2:06 pm
there are more amendments about voting by saying anything else. the core issuebecomes, that is very, very hard to get states to change their voting laws, electoral practices by themselves and less leaned on by the federal government. the constitutional amendment to buttress the authority of the federal government has historically really proved to be very, very substantial. as you may know i for a number of years have been supporting the idea of a constitutional amendment to put our right to vote in the u.s. constitution, preposterous as that might sound. i don't think that's an idea that should be just thought of as either pie-in-the-sky or two fluffy. constitutional amendments work. >> i want to make sure my two colleagues on phone have a chance to ask questions if theyy have any.
2:07 pm
any other questions? thank you very much, professor. >> thank you, madam chair. >> thank you. thank you very much, professor. for scholarly work everyday and for your presentation today. these were phenomenal. thank you. ivan asked if we could have just a five-minute break before he would return to the rest of our agenda so we'll pause until noon and then returned to the rest of our agenda at noon. thank you. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> while congress is out for the summer recess, members have been hosting town halls in their own states.

31 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on