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Carson-Newman events to highlight 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act

(Aug. 5, 2015) – Carson-Newman University will celebrate the golden anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act throughout the coming academic year with a variety of events. The University has themed the year-long observance “A Simple Justice: The Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.”

“This won’t be just a look at the past,” says Dr. Kara Stooksbury, chair of the Department of History, Political Science and Sociology at Carson-Newman. “We will be able to celebrate the history of this law as well as look at its impact today.

Events for the fall semester include:
• Fall semester- Beginning in September, a semester-long, student-curated exhibit will focus on the historic events and march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The exhibit will also highlight the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Open to the public throughout the fall, the exhibit will be housed in the Appalachian Cultural Center.

• September 16-17. The University will host American political activist, civil rights attorney and legal scholar Peter H. Irons. Irons, who is professor emeritus of political science at the University of California, San Diego, will present the Constitution Day lecture in Thomas Recital Hall on Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m. He will also speak on Sept. 17 at 9:30 a.m. in Jefferson City’s First Baptist Church. The public is invited.

• December 4-5. Carson-Newman’s Theatre Program will present original 10-minute plays focused on the Voting Rights Act.

• Scheduling for spring semester events continue with a screening of the 2014 celebrated film, “Selma,” as well as the theatre production of “Walk, Don’t Ride.”

The U.S. Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, 1965. The act meant to enforce the 15th Amendment of the Constitution ratified by Congress in 1870.
The bill was created to guarantee African-Americans the right to vote and made it illegal to impose restrictions on any federal, state and local elections that were designed to deny the vote to blacks.

In naming the theme for the year, Executive Director of University Relations Mary Leidig says the significance of a “Simple Justice” is enormous.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a product of the growing demand from civil rights leaders for the federal government to launch a nationwide offensive against racial discrimination,” said Leidig, who spearheaded the anniversary idea with faculty.

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