Demanding Voting Rights: Then and Now

  • Voting Rights | The March @ 50 - Episode 2

    The Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder shook the Voting Rights Act to the core. Shukree sits down with Edward Blum, whose firm provided counsel to plaintiffs in the Shelby County case, and Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to determine the reasons behind this turning point case and what it means for the future of voting in America. 

    Grades: 6-12
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    FRONTLINE: What’s the Deal with Voters’ Rights?

    Learn about voter rights, including why voter identification (voter ID) laws disproportionately impact minority voters, in this media gallery from FRONTLINE: Ballot Watch. According to the videos, there are several reasons why not all U.S. adults have an acceptable form of identification for voting. For example, Social Security cards lack a photograph and current address; passports are expensive and less than half the population has one. Voter ID laws are described as partisan, ineffective, and discriminatory—partisan, because they are supported by Republicans and criticized by Democrats; ineffective, because they ignore more prevalent means of voter fraud; and discriminatory, because the people being turned away at the polls for not having the proper identification tend to be minorities. Lastly, the videos describe protections under the Voting Right Act and explain the effects of the Supreme Court case ruling in Shelby v. Holder.  This resource is part of the FRONTLINE Election Resources Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • How Have Voting Rights Changed in the Past 50 Years?

    Analyze the change in voting rights during the past 50 years with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from March 8, 2015.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Robert Moses

    Robert Moses was a leader in the voting rights campaign of the 1960s. Raised and educated in the North, Moses put his teaching career on hold and moved to Mississippi, where he became one of the architects of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. In this interview, recorded for Eyes on the Prize, Moses talks about his desire to end racial discrimination by helping African Americans participate fully in the nation's political process.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The President - Primary Source: LBJ's Address to Congress -- Voting Rights, 1965

    In a 1965 address to Congress, LBJ called for legislation to improve the American democratic process. Learn more with this primary source, from American Experience: "LBJ."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Freedom Summer: Mississippi Blocks Voter Registration

    Helping black citizens register to vote in the South was one of the main goals of the civil rights movement, as seen in this video from American Experience: “Freedom Summer.” Previous attempts to register had been met by intimidation and violent recriminations by the white establishment. In 1964, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) recruited student volunteers to go to Mississippi to join in the effort to restore this basic constitutional right to the black community. This resource is part of the American Experience Collection.

    Grades: 7-12
  • What Was "Freedom Summer"?

    This video from American Experience: “Freedom Summer” introduces the events of 1964, when over 700 students, black and white, came to Mississippi to help black citizens register to vote as well as combat other forms of discrimination, such as inadequate schools and lack of legal aid. Organized by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), civil rights activists hoped that the participation of well-educated, middle-class students, many from prestigious universities, would not only bring results but draw the attention of the nation to the miserable standard of living suffered by blacks in Mississippi. This resource is part of the American Experience collection.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Voter Registration Training Tool

    In spite of the Fifteenth Amendment's ban on voting discrimination, many southern states used arbitrary voter registration tests to deny African Americans political access. Civil rights activists, including students at Miles College in Birmingham, used voter registration tools like these documents to fight discrimination. A question-and-answer sheet lists the answers to commonly asked questions on the tests; a questionnaire documents discrimination in the registration process.

    Grades: 6-12