06-18-2018  12:22 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

CareOregon Awards $250,000 for Housing Projects

Recipients include Rogue Retreat, Bridges to Change, Luke Dorf, Transition Projects and Bridge Meadows ...

The Honorable Willie L. Brown to Receive NAACP Spingarn Medal

The award recognizes Brown’s lifelong commitment to the community, equality and civil rights ...

Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture

New Smithsonian exhibit looks at how Oprah Winfrey shaped American culture and vice versa ...

Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Black Pioneers Host ‘Celebrate History and Make a Difference Now!’ Event June 9

Representatives from local organizations will talk about how individuals can get involved in promoting social change ...

Grants Pass man, 39, drowns in Rogue River

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — The Josephine County sheriff says a Grants Pass man drowned in the Rogue River.Sheriff Dave Daniel says it happened Saturday afternoon when 39-year-old James Dawson tried to swim to shore after his watercraft quit working. He was not wearing a life jacket.Crews...

Some forest trails remain closed long after 2017 wildfire

IDAHHA, Ore. (AP) — Some trails in Oregon's Willamette National Forest remain closed due to damage from a wildfire that ripped through the area last year.The Register-Guard reports the Whitewater Trail into the Jefferson Park area remains closed. Other trails, including some in the Fall...

UW to pay 7K to settle Republicans' free-speech lawsuit

SEATTLE (AP) — The University of Washington will pay 7,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after the college billed a Republican club security fees for a rally.The UW College Republicans sued, saying the bill for ,000 to cover security costs for the campus event violated free-speech and...

Old farm warehouse may be saved as part of Hanford history

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — One of Washington state's most endangered historic places is located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland. That's according to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.The long warehouse along the Columbia River was once owned by farmers Paul and Mary...

OPINION

What Happened? Assessing the Singapore Summit

For all its weaknesses, we are better off having had the summit than not ...

Redlining Settlement Fails to Provide Strong Penalties

A recent settlement of a federal redlining lawsuit is yet another sign that justice is still being denied ...

5 Lessons on Peace I Learned from My Cat Soleil

Dr. Jasmine Streeter takes some cues on comfort from her cat ...

Research Suggests Suicides By Racial and Ethnic Minorities are Undercounted

Sociologist Dr. Kimya Dennis describes barriers to culturally-specific suicide research and treatment ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Greece: 2 face racism charges over beatings of immigrants

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police say they have arrested one suspected extreme nationalist and are seeking a second as suspects in a pair of attacks on immigrants in Athens.A police statement issued Monday said the suspects allegedly attacked two Pakistanis on Friday, stole a mobile phone...

Redistricting changes headed to the ballot in several states

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday on redistricting lawsuits in Wisconsin and Maryland comes as several states already are considering changes to the criteria and processes that will be used to draw legislative districts after the 2020 Census.In most places, the state legislature and governor are...

States' redistricting plans facing challenges in court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to block the use of legislative districts in Wisconsin and Maryland in separate cases that had alleged unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. Instead, the high court allowed lower courts to continue considering the claims.The cases are among several that...

ENTERTAINMENT

Review: 'Jurassic World 2' leans on nostalgia, contrivances

Here's the good news: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom " is more fun than "Jurassic World." It's not exactly a high bar, but still a welcome surprise. In the hands of a new director, J.A. Bayona, with Chris Pratt's high-wattage charisma on full blast and a fair amount of self-aware humor intact,...

'Incredibles 2' crushes animation record with 0 million

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The combined powers of superheroes, the Pixar brand and a drought of family-friendly films helped "Incredibles 2" become the best animated opening of all time, the biggest PG-rated launch ever and the 8th highest film launch overall.Disney estimated Sunday that the film...

AFI highlights Clooney's life of acting, activism and pranks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — George Clooney's Hollywood career spans more than three decades, with memorable roles including fighting vampires, playing Batman and drifting through space in "Gravity." But Clooney's other accomplishments, including directing, screenwriting and activism, led to him...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Puerto Rico struggles with jump in asthma cases post-Maria

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Shortly after he turned 2, Yadriel Hernandez started struggling to breathe....

Apple sets up iPhones to relay location for 911 calls

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is trying to drag the U.S.'s antiquated system for handling 911 calls into the...

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA (AP) — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health...

Israel PM, Jordan king meet after months of strained ties

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan's King Abdullah II and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have met after...

Geraldine McCaughrean wins Carnegie children's book prize

LONDON (AP) — British writer Geraldine McCaughrean has won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for children's...

Greek far-right lawmaker arrested on treason-linked charges

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek anti-terrorism police arrested an extreme far-right lawmaker on treason-linked...

George Curry

Thursday, Aug. 6, marks the 50thanniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will hold a Call to Action Rally at 9 a.m. on Thursday at the Martin Luther King Memorial on the National Mall.

The NAACP hopes to cap its Selma, Ala. to Washington, D.C. relay march, called America’s Journey for Justice, in the nation’s capital on Sept. 16.

Other celebratory activities are planned for different times.

Considered among the most far-reaching legislation in history, the 1965 Voting Rights Act removed many of the impediments to voting created by cities, counties and states that prevented many African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15thAmendment to the Constitution.

Dallas County, Ala., which includes the city of Selma, was typical.

As the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, observed, in 1965, more than half of Dallas County was Black. However, of the county’s 15,000 voting-age African Americans, only 156 were registered to vote. By contrast, two-thirds of voting-age Whites were registered.

It took the savage beating of 600 protesters, including future U.S. Congressman John Lewis, by White law enforcement officials on April 7, 1965, known as “Bloody Sunday,” to stir the nation’s conscience against ballot box indignities. That provided the momentum for passage of the bill.

“Only in the wake of the Voting Rights Act did black voter registration in the South begin to approach that of whites,” the Joint Center said in a report titled, “50 Years of The Voting Rights Act: The State of Race in Politics.” It continued, “Five years after the passage of the Act, the racial gap in voter registration in the former Confederate states had closed to single digits.  By the start of the 1970s, the black/white registration gap across the Southern states was little more than 8 percentage points.”

In four of the 12 presidential elections since 1964, Black voters have turned out at higher rates that their White counterparts, according to the Joint Center. And the number of Black elected officials have increased from less than 1,000 in 1965 to more than 10,000 in 2015, including President Barack Obama.

While properly appreciating the accomplishments of the Voting Rights Act, we should not lose sight of the challenges that lie ahead.

“Since the 2010 election, 21 states have new laws making it harder to vote – ranging from photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions – and 15 states will have them in place for the first time in a presidential election in 2016. Those 15 states are: Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin,”according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

And things are likely to get worse before the election.

The Brennan Center also noted, “As the early stages of the 2016 presidential race begin, state legislatures are already considering hundreds of laws that could determine voters’ access to the ballot. Since the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, and as of May 13, 2015, at least 113 bills that would restrict access to registration and voting have been introduced or carried over in 33 states.”

Many of these bills were introduced in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision inShelby County v. Holder.On June 25, 2013, the court invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the provision determining which jurisdictions are required to pre-clear any voting changes with a federal judge or the Justice Department because of a history of racial discrimination.

To repair the court’s damage, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) took the lead in introducing a bill that would, among other things, require states and municipalities with a history of repeated voting violations to pre-clear any election law changes with the Justice Department or a federal judge in Washington, D.C., just as had been the case before the Supreme Court’s recent action.

Of course, Blacks must also continue to fight against regressive changes at the state level.

Any euphoria created by the tremendous gains made since passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act should be tempered by a stark reality cited in the report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

It noted, “Based on the most recent data, African Americans are 12.5 percent of the citizen voting age population, but they make up a smaller share of the U.S. House (10 percent), state legislatures (8.5 percent), city councils (5.7 percent), and the U.S. Senate (2 percent).”

report by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights concluded, “While the VRA has been enormously successful in eliminating some of the most egregious forms of discrimination, the reality is that discrimination in voting remains real and immediate.”

 

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and BlackPressUSA.com. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site,www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook. See previous columns at http://www.georgecurry.com/columns.

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