Benjamin Jealous, President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Jealous was the keynote speaker at the 15th Annual David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum: Voting Rights v. Voter Suppression, on Monday, March 26, 2012 at SIPA.
In his address, Jealous emphasized that the fight against voter suppression was not happening in a void.
Jealous also discussed his recent trip to Sanford, FL because of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin and subsequent protests. He had just spent a week in the city, and described it as the tensest place he had ever seen in his life. After talking to people and hearing 12 emotional testimonials, he found that two trends emerged:
Watch Jealous’s entire address here: http://youtu.be/37uKs0tvrkI
After his speech, a panel was introduced by Professor Ester Fuchs, Director of the Urban and Social Policy Program at SIPA. The panelists each added their thoughts on voter suppression and racial profiling.
Panelists left to right: Professor Fredrick C. Harris, Elinor R. Tatum, Professor Dorian T. Warren, Benjamin Jealous, Professor Theodore M. Shaw and Professor Rodolfo de la Garza.
Professor Dorian Warren said that voter suppression was not only tied to mass incarceration, but to a range of activities being taken at the state level, that included racial profiling and racial targeting of immigrants. He added that, historically, suppressing voting rights has been about suppressing social justice and equality.
Professor Fredrick Harris, Director of Columbia University’s Center on African-American Politics and Society, also gave the audience a historical view of voter suppression, redistricting and demographic shifts, emphasizing “the importance of developing multiracial coalitions.”
This led to a discussion between Professor Rodolfo de la Garza and Jealous on the importance of coalitions between the black community and Latino community.
Columbia Law Professor Theodore M. Shaw later weighed in, saying:
Finally, Elinor Tatum, Publisher and Editor in Chief of the New York Amsterdam News, warned of the role the media is playing. She said that by scaring people the media is dividing them.
Tatum later added a personal note, reflecting back on the evening’s main discussion points, particularly the importance of working together across minority communities:
This event was live-tweeted. For more highlights from the event, click here: http://storify.com/ColumbiaSIPA/benjamin-jealous-sanford-fl-is-really-sanford-usa
- Michelle Chahine
Sanford, Florida is really Sanford, USA.