Southern History and Civil Rights in the News 23 October 2020

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Southern History and Civil Rights in the News

23 October 2020


This week’s news continues to trend heavily towards the upcoming election, which ends in just eleven days. Much of that news is about voting rights and the restrictions that many are facing in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote, as in this story from The Center for Public Integrity on Alabama. CNBC calls the restoration of felon voting rights “one of the key civil rights issues of our times,” here. The Southern Poverty Law Center is reporting on a new process for “curing” questionable absentee ballots in Mississippi, a process brought about by Parham v Watson, which you can read about here. WPXI, Pittsburgh’s NBC affiliate has a report on the Supreme Court’s decision to allow an extension for mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, which you can read and watch here. And the NAACP released the schedule and lineup for their “Black the Vote, Out Lives Depend on It,” Homecoming Celebration to be broadcast tomorrow, 24 October. You can get that news here. Refinery29 has an article on the racist history of the electoral college, here. Finally, if you are looking for books on the history of voting and elections in the US, The Salisbury Post (NC), has recommendations from the Rowan Public Library, here.


In education news, the US Department of Education released its 2017-2018 Civil Rights Data Collection Report last week, which you can read here. Most of the reaction to the report hit the news this week, you can read reactions from The Times of San Diego here, which reports that stricter discipline falls mainly on students of color and is costing those students valuable class time; The Washington Post article “Police in Schools May Not Make Kids Any Safer,” here, is a much broader examination of School Resource Officers, and Education Dive lists their four key takeaways from the report here.


Two new civil rights boards have been created in the wake of unrest over police shootings and other violations. Bexar County (TX) has created a Civil Rights Division to investigate officer-involved shootings, and the state of Massachusetts has a new Civil Rights Task Force to address issues of civil rights more broadly. You can read about those, respectively, from KSAT, San Antonio’s ABC affiliate, here, and NBC Boston 10, here.


In city news, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has opened an official inquiry into whether or not the city of Chicago has engaged in a long pattern of environmental racism, as reported by The Chicago Sun-Times, here, and Black DC city workers have won a victory in federal district court, advancing their claims of discrimination stemming from layoffs after budget cuts. You can read that from Bloomberg Law, here.


In world news, Pope Francis caused a stir when he expressed support for same-sex civil unions. The news broke with the premiere of the documentary Francesco, and you can read about it here, in The New York Times.


Until next week, stay well,


Michele “Scout” Johnson

Editor, H-South


This series of weekly posts to H-South, “Southern History and Civil Rights in the News,” aims to track informed public discussions of southern history and civil rights. To recommend a reading, please email Dr. Michele Johnson at