Oct 01

Fighting for the Franchise: A Century of Struggle for Voting Rights


Who can vote? Who decides? The ability to vote for elected representatives is supposed to be a hallmark of a democracy. But for most of US history, most people here could not vote. In the face of voter suppression and disfranchisement, black people have waged a protracted struggle to gain, protect, and expand voting rights in this country.


  • Carol Anderson

    Emory University

    Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University and author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Nation's Divide, a New York Times Bestseller, Washington Post Notable Book of 2016, and a National Book Critics Circle Award winner. She is also the author of Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955; Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960, and One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy, which was long-listed for the National Book Award and a finalist for the PEN/Galbraith Award in non-fiction.

    At the core of her research agenda is how policy is made and unmade, how racial inequality and racism affect that process and outcome, and how those who have taken the brunt of those laws, executive orders, and directives have worked to shape, counter, undermine, reframe, and, when necessary, dismantle the legal and political edifice used to limit their rights and their humanity.

    As an educator and historian, Professor Anderson has been lauded both by colleagues and students alike for her exciting, nuanced, and accessible approach to research and academia. She has received numerous teaching awards, including Emory’s Williams Award and the university’s Teacher-Scholar Award.

    Professor Anderson’s role as a public scholar has found her serving on working groups dealing with race, minority rights, and criminal justice. She has appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show, PBS NewsHour, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and Democracy Now!, as well as providing commentary for the Huffington Post, The Guardian, New York Times, and Washington Post. Her op-ed in the Washington Post on Ferguson was the most shared for the newspaper in 2014.

    She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Miami University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Political Science and a bachelor’s in history. She earned her PhD in history from The Ohio State University.

  • Ari Berman

    Type Media Center

    Ari Berman is a senior reporter for Mother Jones and a fellow at Type Media Center. He has written extensively about American politics, voting rights, and the intersection of money and politics. Berman was the first national reporter to cover voter suppression during the 2012 election, earning widespread acclaim for his coverage and pushing the issue into the national spotlight. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and The Nation, and he is a frequent guest and commentator on MSNBC, C-Span, and NPR. In 2017, Berman won an Izzy Award for outstanding achievement in independent media.

    He is the author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America about the history of voting rights since 1965, as well as Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics. He graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and political science.

  • Martha Jones

    Johns Hopkins University

    Professor Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy.

    Professor Jones is the author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All and Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America, winner of the Organization of American Historians Liberty Legacy Award for the best book in civil rights history, among other awards. Professor Jones is also author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture 1830-1900 and a coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women, along with many important articles and essay.

    Professor Jones is a public historian, frequently writing for broader audiences at the Washington Post, the Atlantic, USA Today, Public Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Time, the curatorship of museum exhibitions including “Reframing the Color Line” and “Proclaiming Emancipation.” Professor Jones holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and a J.D. from the CUNY School of Law.

  • Reverend Liz Theoharis

    Poor People's Campaign

    The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis is Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival with the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II that organized the largest and most expansive wave of nonviolent civil disobedience in US history. She is the Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary. She has spent over the past two decades organizing amongst the poor in the United States, working with and advising grassroots organizations with significant victories including the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Vermont Workers Center, Domestic Workers United, the National Union of the Homeless and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union.

    Liz received her BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, her Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in 2004 where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar, and her PhD from Union Theological Seminary in New Testament and Christian Origins. She has been published in Time Magazine, The Guardian, Sojourners, The Nation, The Christian Century, among other outlets.

    Liz is the author of Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor. She is co-author of Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing. Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.



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