Winston-Salem, NC — Story of America witnessed the North Carolina General Assembly's passage of what many call the most aggressive voting restrictions since the end of the Jim Crow Era.
A Federal Court challenge to determine the constitutionality of North Carolina's restrictions may well be headed to the Supreme Court. I spoke with Allison Riggs, lead counsel for the League of Women Voters, which, along with the U.S. Department of Justice and the North Carolina NAACP will argue that House Bill 589 violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.Read more
This video shot on election day 2012 is the best documentation so far of the unfairness of long lines at the polls in urban centers. Subsequently, other swing states such as Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have implemented policies designed to engineer long lines at the polls in urban centers.
Defenders of this strategy say election administration should be 'equal' regardless of population density, even if this means unequal access to the polls due to waiting times. Conservative lawmakers, who have accepted and implemented election law changes suggested by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heritage foundation have also accepted the argument that the constitutional right to equal justice under law does not protect things like early voting and weekend voting simply because they help to ease long lines in populated areas. Instead, they argue, the notion of equal protection can be used to justify cutting back on early voting and weekend voting because they are essential to avoid long lines where the population is dense, but less so where the population is sparse.
Critics of the "long lines" electoral strategy compare it to Jim Crow practices such as poll taxes, saying that wage earners who miss time at work or have to hire child care in order to wait five or more hours to vote are facing the equivalent of a poll tax.
By contrast, we shot the video below on the same day, in a more rural area of Virginia 2 hours southwest, not far from James Madison University:Read more
I know most of you don't want to hear this, but I need to get this off my chest. This is not a critique of President Obama's speech; it is a request for us to hit pause during the ongoing political circus and think about premise of the entire spectacle. Why do we need to hear that we are number one from our president every year?
Even after Iraq and the financial crisis, most of us want to hear that America is #1. We are very invested in this identity, this story of us.Read more
Columbia, SC -- For the last few weeks since the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on June 17th, the fierce debate here and around the nation revolved around whether or not the Confederate flag should be removed from SC's Capitol grounds.
From the day after the shooting, the Confederate flag drew attention and scorn for flying at full mast when the state and US flag above the dome were lowered by the Governor's order to half-mast in an expression of mourning. Petitions began circulating as early as June 18th through MoveOn and other networks with hundreds of thousands people demanding the removal of the Confederate flag from all government property in South Carolina.Read more
For most of 2010 through 2012, I was trying to figure out answers to these questions: Why are the American people so divided, and hostile to one another? How will we meet the many challenges we face when there is conflict among the people and gridlock in Washington?
We had a simple question when Eric Byler and I began our journey around the country with Story of America: Why have we become so divided as a nation and how can we become more united?
As I watched the video of our interview with James Morgan of Bakersville, NC, a mining town in the Appalachian Mountains, I finally recognized what really propelled this journey. It wasn't some academic answer to my question; it was something deeply personal.Read more
Editor's note: Annabel is one of the producers of Story of America. This is an auto-biographical story about how she became committed to being an active citizen.
This is the oath that I took when I became an American citizen in June, 1991, in Boston:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United
In 2010, the Texas State Board of Education voted to minimize the role of slavery in developing new guidelines for teaching about the Civil War. Patricia Hall, a Republican board member, asserted, "States' rights were the real issues behind the Civil War. Slavery was an after issue." Starting next month, 5 million students in Texas will learn about American history based on these changes.Read more
Today a friend in the justice movement texted me these words: "Happy New Year. I'm depressed." In trying to offer some advice, I summarized the remarks quoted below, which had made me feel better about life.
As you know, Story of America aims to create greater understanding and civil engagement on divisive issues.
One of our goals for 2015 is to create better dialogue between communities and law enforcement. We were able to contribute to the dialogue in Prince William County through our critically acclaimed documentary project 9500 Liberty, the youtube series and the feature film. This is the trailer for the film.