50 Years After Selma March, New Report Finds Party Politics Increasingly Polarized by Race

Posted March 11, 2015

MP3 Interview with Khalilah L. Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University, conducted by Scott Harris

voting

On the weekend of March 7 and 8, tens of thousands of people from across the U.S. and the world gathered in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 1965 civil rights march known as “Bloody Sunday,” where 600 peaceful demonstrators demanding the right to vote were attacked by Alabama State Troopers and County Posses. The police assault resulted in 17 injured protesters being sent to the hospita, and worldwide attention focused on America’s civil rights struggle. Five months later, in August, 1965, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act that provided for federal oversight of local election laws.

Veterans of the civil rights struggle joined elected officials in Selma, including America’s first black President Barack Obama. In an address made on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the president recognized the progress made in civil rights since 1965, but acknowledged that racism still casts a dark shadow on the nation. One major reversal for the Voting Rights Act frequently cited in Selma came in a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, which gutted a key section of the legislation that provided a coverage formula identifying jurisdictions requiring pre-clearance. Since then, Republican-controlled states have passed a flood of new restrictive voting laws that disproportionately suppress the votes of minorities, the elderly and young people.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Khalilah L. Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University and one of three co-authors of a new report published by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies titled, "50 Years of the Voting Rights Act: The State of Race in Politics." Here, professor Brown-Dean assesses the racial polarization in U.S. electoral politics, recent voter suppression tactics and congressional action necessary to restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Khalilah L. Brown-Dean is one of three co-authors of a March 3 report titled, "50 Years of the Voting Rights Act: The State of Race in Politics".

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