In 1990 I was an attorney for the Voting Rights Section of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Much to my mother’s dismay, I got sent to Mississippi to investigate the political and social environment in Noxubee County. The question was whether minority voters’ rights were in such jeopardy that federal observers were necessary. Among the folks I met was a tiny white woman with cotton-candy hair and matching glasses who couldn’t get my name right and asked me the same question.
Yew behavin’ yur-self?”
My role in this woman’s play was merely to smile and nod. After all, as a government outsider talking to Black voters about their concerns pre-election day, I clearly was not being good girl. Memories of that time, place, and irksome woman came to mind when I learned that federal observers wouldn’t be out in full force this presidential election. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which also hobbled the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce the law. Continue reading “Election(s) Matter(s)”