The Fight to Vote
September 24, 2020
Experts warn that the Covid-19 pandemic will create barriers to voting for millions of Americans this November. But the public health crisis is hardly the only cause of this: intensified voter suppression efforts have been enacted over the past decade, creating impediments to the polls that often target communities of color. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder weakened the protections of the Voting Rights Act, paving the way for states to purge voter rolls and establish discriminatory voter ID laws.
In this virtual conversation moderated by political strategist, activist, and commentaor Karen Finney, Emory University professor Dr. Carol Anderson and Brennan Center Senior Fellow Theodore R. Johnson discussed how communities, activists, and organizations are leading the fight to protect the vote — and what’s at stake for American democracy.
This event was produced in partnership with New York University's Brennan Center for Justice and NYU Votes.
Dr. Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies, Emory University; Author, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy
Carol Anderson is Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University. Professor Anderson’s research and teaching focus on public policy; particularly the ways that domestic and international policies intersect through the issues of race, justice and equality in the United States.
Professor Anderson is the author of Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African-American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955, which was published by Cambridge University Press and awarded both the Gustavus Myers and Myrna Bernath Book Awards. In her second monograph, Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960, also published by Cambridge, Professor
Anderson uncovered the long-hidden and important role of the nation’s most powerful civil rights organization in the fight for the liberation of peoples of color in Africa and Asia. Professor Anderson's most recent work, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy, was published by Bloomsbury and a finalist for the PEN/Galbraith Award in Non-fiction and a National Book Award Longlist finalist in Non-fiction. Click here for more about One Person, No Vote, and here for more about its most recent award. Her book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, published by Bloomsbury, is a New York Times Bestseller and was a New York Times Editor's Pick for July 2016. In March 2017, it won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Click here for more about White Rage, and here for more about its most recent award.
Her research has garnered substantial fellowships and grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, National Humanities Center, Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (The Big Ten and the University of Chicago), and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
She has also served on working groups dealing with race, minority rights, and criminal justice at Stanford’s Center for Applied Science and Behavioral Studies, the Aspen Institute, and the United Nations. Her op-ed in the Washington Post was the most shared for the newspaper in 2014.
Professor Anderson has received numerous teaching awards, including the Crystal Apple Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, the University Scholar-Teacher Award, the Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching, the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the Mizzou Class of '39 Outstanding Faculty Award, the Most Inspiring Professor Award from the Athletic Department, the Gold Chalk Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching, and the Provost's Teaching Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty.
Professor Anderson was a member of the U.S. State Department’s Historical Advisory Committee and is currently on the Advisory Board of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative.
She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Miami University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Political Science, International Relations, and History. She earned her Ph.D. in history from The Ohio State University.
Karen Finney, Political Strategist, Activist, Commentator
A leading Democratic strategist and Political Commentator for CNN, Karen Finney is an independent consultant working with political and corporate clients on crisis communications, branding, public affairs, polling and strategy. She was a Senior Advisor to Stacey Abrams’ Gubernatorial campaign, the Democratic National Committee and AL Media in the 2018 election cycle. Finney served as Senior Advisor for Communications and Political Outreach and Senior Spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
From her experience working in media, national politics, political and communications strategy in both the public and private sectors, Finney brings a unique perspective to her work. She was a political analyst and hosted her own show on MSNBC, “Disrupt with Karen Finney,”. Her experience includes work on four presidential campaigns, both the President and First Lady during the Clinton Administration, and she was the Democratic National Committee’s first African American spokeswoman, helping to lead the DNC’s communications strategy for the “50 State Strategy,” successful 2006 Congressional elections and 2008 presidential campaign. A former Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, Finney current serves as Board Vice Chair for NARAL pro-choice America, Board Chair at Ultraviolet and a co-founder Power Rising. Finney is also a Terker Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Journalism and Public Affairs.
Theodore R. Johnson, PhD, Senior Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice
Theodore (Ted) R. Johnson is a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. His work explores the role that race plays in electoral politics, issue framing, and disparities in policy outcomes. Previously, he was a national fellow at New America and a research manager at Deloitte. He is also a retired commander in the U.S. Navy following a two-decade career that included service as a White House fellow, military professor at the U.S. Naval War College, and speechwriter to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal, National Review, and Politico, among other publications. He teaches law and public policy to master’s and doctoral students and is currently working on a book about national solidarity and race relations.
Johnson holds a BS in mathematics from Hampton University, an ALM with a concentration in international relations from Harvard University, and a doctorate of law and policy from Northeastern University.