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The NAACP first brought a delegation before the United Nations Human Rights Council in 1947, when W. E. B. Du Bois delivered his famous speech “An Appeal to the World” warning the global body about threats to voting rights in the United States."



NAACP Takes Voting Rights ID Issue to United Nations

from the Files of the NAACP


An NAACP delegation is in Geneva, Switzerland this week to bring the issue of voting rights in the United States before the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

The group—the first NAACP delegation of its kind in decades—plans to bring global attention to attempts by dozens of states to limit voter participation by limiting the forms of acceptable identification, shortening early voting opportunities, restricting where and when eligible voters may register, and banning formerly incarcerated citizens from the polls. The new legislation threatens the voting rights of millions of US citizens, with people of color affected disproportionately.

“The United States has always been a beacon of democracy for other nations,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors. “When we do not uphold the highest standard, it can have major implications for democracy advocates across the globe.”

The NAACP first brought a delegation before the United Nations Human Rights Council in 1947, when W. E. B. Dubois delivered his famous speech “An Appeal to the World” warning the global body about threats to voting rights in the United States."

“We’ve come full circle,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “In the past year more states in this country have passed more laws pushing more voters out of the ballot box than at any point since the dawn of Jim Crow.”

Accompanying NAACP leaders are delegates Austin Alex and Kemba Smith. Alex, a student at Texas Christian University, will not be able to vote this year under a new Texas law that does not recognize his California drivers license as a valid form of identification. Smith is barred from voting in the state of Virginia under legislation that prohibits the formerly incarcerated from the polls. Smith had been convicted of a drug-related offense in 1992, but was later granted clemency by President Clinton when the president learned she had been convicted without ever selling, handling or using drugs.

Last December, the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund released a report, “Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in the United States.” The report revealed direct connections between the trend of increasing, unprecedented African American and Latino voter turnout and an onslaught of restrictive measures across the country designed to stem electoral strength among communities of color.


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 Defending Democracy

Confronting Modern barriers to Voting Rights in America (NAACP Report)


The difficulty that many Americans would have in meeting a documentary proof of citizenship requirement is alone cause for concern, but the disproportionate effect of this requirement on people of color is even more alarming. Minorities will bear the brunt of proof of citizenship laws because they are the least likely to have ready access to citizenship documents.105

In particular, proof of citizenship requirements—such as laws requiring voters to produce government-issued photo identification, discussed later in this report—have a uniquely burdensome impact on elderly African-American vot­ers, many of whom, because they were born when de jure segregation prevented equal access to hospitals, simply do not have a birth certificate.106

Thus, many elderly African Americans are, by virtue of their race and the history of racial discrimination in this country, entirely incapable of satisfying the requirements of these laws.

More broadly, racial disparities in access to citizenship documentation exist because of broad socio-economic dis­parities correlated with race. For example, citizens earning less than $25,000 per year are more than twice as likely to lack ready documentation of their citizenship as others, and at least 12% of voting-age citizens earning less than $25,000 per year do not have a readily available U.S. passport, naturalization document, or birth certificate.107

Given the substantial racial disparities nationwide with respect to the poverty rate—as of 2009, 25.8% of African Americans and 25.3% of Latinos lived in poverty, compared with only 9.4% of whites108—it is clear that these documentary proof requirements disproportionately burden minorities.

Poverty rate disparities also demonstrate that voters of color are among those who are the least able to bear the costs of obtaining citizenship documentation. In instances where citizenship documents can be replaced or obtained in the first instance, individuals face an expensive and time-consuming process. A replacement birth certificate can exceed $20,109 a passport costs $110,110 and replacement naturalization documents cost $345.


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The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. §§ 19731973aa-6) is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S. Echoing the language of the 15th Amendment, the Act prohibits states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Specifically, Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African-Americans from exercising the franchise. The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, who had earlier signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. . . .

The Act has been renewed and amended by Congress four times, the most recent being a 25-year extension signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006. . . . During the debate over the 2006 extension, some Republican members of Congress objected to renewing the preclearance requirement (the Act's primary enforcement provision), arguing that it represents an overreach of federal power and places unwarranted bureaucratic demands on Southern states that have long since abandoned the discriminatory practices the Act was meant to eradicate. Conservative legislators also opposed requiring states with large Spanish-speaking populations to provide bilingual ballots. Congress nonetheless voted to extend the Act for twenty-five years with its original enforcement provisions left intact.—Wikipedia

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The GOP War on Voting—In a campaign supported by the Koch brothers, Republicans are working to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year—By Ari Berman—As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. "What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century," says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C. Republicans have long tried to drive Democratic voters away from the polls. "I don't want everybody to vote," the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980."—RollingStone

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Voting and Racial History—26 January 2012—Instead of ensuring that voting rights are extended to all Americans, many state legislatures are engaged in efforts to shut out voters in this election year, taking aim at young people, immigrants and minorities.

Last week, a panel of judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard a case that could eviscerate the ability of the federal government to prevent racial discrimination in voting. The issue in Shelby County v. Holder involves Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires that jurisdictions with flagrant histories of racial discrimination in voting must get permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes in their voting rules or laws.

Shelby County, Ala., one of those jurisdictions, contends that Section 5 intrudes unconstitutionally on the sovereign authority of states. It argues that while the preclearance rule was justified when the country, especially the South, was ending legal segregation, it is no longer needed. That argument was properly dismissed in a 151-page opinion by Judge John Bates of Federal District Court, who ruled that the discrimination that led to passage and extensions of the Voting Rights Act endures. The appeals court should uphold his decision.

The case is important because in 2009, by a 8-to-1 vote, the Supreme Court said there are “serious constitutional questions” about whether Section 5 meets a current need, although the justices did not answer those questions at that time. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, left some legal experts with the impression that the court had come close to striking down Section 5. Fortunately, it did not do so.

When Congress nearly unanimously reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006, it relied on abundant evidence that there is still pervasive, persistent, even Jim Crow-style voting discrimination in the South and elsewhere — including in Shelby County and other parts of Alabama. Without Section 5’s preclearance requirement, Congress found, “racial and language minority citizens will be deprived of the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, or will have their votes diluted, undermining the significant gains made by minorities in the last 40 years.” The provision remains an effective and essential check against widespread voting violations. Many jurisdictions still actively sabotage the interests of minority voters, as shown in new efforts to keep these voters from the polls. Discrimination would be even more widespread without the continuing and critical deterrence of the preclearance requirement.—NYTimes

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W. E. B. Du Bois, “An Appeal to the World : A Statement of Denial of Human Rights to Minorities in the Case of citizens of Negro Descent in the United States of America and an Appeal to the United Nations for Redress.” (1947)

The so-called American Negro group, therefore, while it is in no sense absolutely set off physically from its fellow Americans, has nevertheless a strong, hereditary cultural unity, born of slavery, of common suffering, prolonged prescription and curtailment of political and civil rights; and especially because of economic and social disabilities.  Largely from this fact have arisen their cultural gifts to America—their rhythm, music and folk-song’ their religious faith and customs; their contribution to American art and literature; their defense of their country in every war, on land and sea; and especially the hard, continuous toil upon which the prosperity and wealth of this continent has largely been built. . . . 

Constitution: Article XV, (1870) Section 1. “The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.  Section 2.  The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

We appeal to the world to witness that this attitude of America is far more dangerous to mankind than the Atom bomb; and far, far more clamorous for attention than disarmament or treaty.  To disarm the hidebound minds of men is the only path to peace; and as long as Great Britain and the United States profess democracy with one hand and deny it to millions with the other, they convince none of their sincerity, least of all themselves.  Not only that, but they encourage the aggression of smaller nations: so long as the Union of South Africa defends Humanity and lets two million whites enslave ten million colored people, its voice spells hypocrisy.  So long as Belgium holds in both economic and intellectual bondage, a territory seventy-five times her own size and larger in population, no one can sympathize with her loss of dividends based on serf labor at twenty-five to fifty cents a day.  Seven million “white” Australians cannot yell themselves into championship of democracy for seven hundred million Asiatics.—blackpast.

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Voter Suppression in 2012 Past is Prologue—Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III—In 1870 Congress ratified the 15th Amendment to the Constitution which declared, “The right of citizen’s of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” In response to this Amendment a number of former Confederate states employed devices such as the poll tax, literacy tests, the grandfather clause, and white primaries to ensure that African American’s were denied their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. When these devices failed, tactics such as night rides, bombings, lynching, and other terrorist tactics were used to intimidate prospective African American voters.

After years of struggle in the courts, legislatures, and the streets, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibiting “covered jurisdictions” from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure . . . to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Some of the jurisdictions covered by the Act are in Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Before he signed the 1965 Act Johnson explained, “This act flows from a clear and simple wrong. Its only purpose is to right that wrong. Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote.”

Today this ugly part of America’s past has once again become its present. As a result of Republican’s taking control of statehouses after the 2010 mid-term elections, a number of states such as Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Mississippi (sound familiar) and others have enacted laws imposing new restrictions for voter ID, voter registration, and early voting.

According to the report Voting Law Changes in 2012 from the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, these new restrictions will have a disproportionate impact on younger voters, people of color, low-income voters, and those with disabilities. It’s no coincidence that these demographics also tend to vote for Democrats. According to The NY Times, “It has been a record year for new legislation designed to make it harder for Democrats to vote — 19 laws and two executive actions in 14 states dominated by Republicans…”—blackagendareport

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Texas Trying to Reverse Major Victory of Civil Rights Movement—8 July 2012The Voting Rights Act—a cherished safeguard for minority voters since 1965—has been under siege for two years and this week faces one of its toughest test on an apparent path to the U.S. Supreme Court. Twenty-five hours of argument, starting on Monday and spread over five days, will help the judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decide whether Texas can require voters to present a photo identification at the polls.

Formulated at a time of racial turmoil, the Voting Rights Act passed 77-19 in the U.S. Senate and 333-85 in the House of Representatives. The votes transcended party lines to protect black voters of all political ideals.Ever since, it has served as the U.S. government’s chief check on the fairness of election rules imposed by local governments. While it passed with bipartisan support more than 45 years ago, a shift in political preferences along racial lines has turned the landmark piece of civil rights era legislation into a highly charged political issue. In the 1960s, Democrats held a monopoly of voters in the Southern states. But since then, most white Southern voters have shifted allegiances to the Republican Party, while black and Hispanic voters moved further toward the left.—atlantablackstar

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Why England Slept
by John F. Kennedy


It is difficult to read Why England Slept without seeing the shadow of the future president hanging over every word.  Most prophetic indeed is Henry Luce's foreword, which notes on p. xiv: "In recent months there has been a certain amount of alarm concerning the "attitude" of the younger generation. If John Kennedy is characteristic of the younger generation—and I believe he is—many of us would be happy to have the destinies of this Republic handed over to his generation at once." For it is Kennedy, after all, who launched the Peace Corps, challenged his country to land a man on the moon, and stirred countless young Americans with his optimistic talk of a New Frontier.  Young Jack Kennedy had Destiny infused in every fiber of his being.TaoYue

New York: Funk, July 1940.  / Reprinted by Greenwood Press, 1981. ISBN 0313228744.

Civil Rights and Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower / Book Review: JFK Why England Slept

List of federal judges appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower / Civil Rights and Presidents: Kennedy and Johnson

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power (Robert Caro) / Q&A with Robert Caro

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Jefferson's Pillow

The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism

By Roger W. Wilkins

 In Jefferson's Pillow, Wilkins returns to America's beginnings and the founding fathers who preached and fought for freedom, even though they owned other human beings and legally denied them their humanity. He asserts that the mythic accounts of the American Revolution have ignored slavery and oversimplified history until the heroes, be they the founders or the slaves in their service, are denied any human complexity. Wilkins offers a thoughtful analysis of this fundamental paradox through his exploration of the lives of George Washington, George Mason, James Madison, and of course Thomas Jefferson. He discusses how class, education, and personality allowed for the institution of slavery, unravels how we as Americans tell different sides of that story, and explores the confounding ability of that narrative to limit who we are and who we can become. An important intellectual history of America's founding, Jefferson's Pillow will change the way we view our nation and ourselves.

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Representing the Race

The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer

By Kenneth W. Mack

Representing the Race tells the story of an enduring paradox of American race relations, through the prism of a collective biography of African American lawyers who worked in the era of segregation. . . . Mack reorients what we thought we knew about famous figures such as Thurgood Marshall, who rose to prominence by convincing local blacks and prominent whites that he was—as nearly as possible—one of them. But he also introduces a little-known cast of characters to the American racial narrative. These include Loren Miller, the biracial Los Angeles lawyer who, after learning in college that he was black, became a Marxist critic of his fellow black attorneys and ultimately a leading civil rights advocate; and Pauli Murray, a black woman who seemed neither black nor white, neither man nor woman, who helped invent sex discrimination as a category of law. The stories of these lawyers pose the unsettling question: what, ultimately, does it mean to “represent” a minority group in the give-and-take of American law and politics? / For Love of Liberty

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To the Mountaintop

My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement

By Charlayne Hunter-Gault

A personal history of the civil rights movement from activist and acclaimed journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. On January 20, 2009, 1.8 million people crowded the grounds of the Capitol to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama. Among the masses was Charlayne Hunter-Gault. She had flown from South Africa for the occasion, to witness what was for many the culmination of the long struggle for civil rights in the United States. In this compelling personal history, she uses the event to look back on her own involvement in the civil rights movement, as one of two black students who forced the University of Georgia to integrate, and to relate the pivotal events that swept the South as the movement gathered momentum through the early 1960s. With poignant black-and-white photos, original articles from the New York Times, and a unique personal viewpoint, this is a moving tribute to the men and women on whose shoulders Obama stood.

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Civil rights since 1787 : a reader on the Black struggle

Edited by Jonathan Birnbaum and Clarence Taylor

Contrary to simple textbook tales, the civil rights movement did not arise spontaneously in 1954 with the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. The black struggle for civil rights can be traced back to the arrival of the first Africans, and to their work in the plantations, manufacturies, and homes of the Americas. Civil rights was thus born as labor history.

Civil Rights Since 1787 tells the story of that struggle in its full context, dividing the struggle into six major periods, from slavery to Reconstruction, from segregation to the Second Reconstruction, and from the current backlash to the future prospects for a Third Reconstruction. The "prize" that the movement has sought has often been reduced to a quest for the vote in the South. But all involved in the struggle have always known that the prize is much more than the vote, that the goal is economic as well as political. Further, in distinction from other work, Civil Rights Since 1787 establishes the links between racial repression and the repression of labor and the left, and emphasizes the North as a region of civil rights struggle.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 13 May 2012




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