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Voting Rights in America

February & March 2020

Florence-Lauderdale Public Library is hosting an in-depth exploration of the struggle for equal voting rights. This series commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Fifteenth Amendment, the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, Black History Month, and Women's History Month. The Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state partner with the National Endowment for the Humanities, co-sponsors this project.

"We Are All Bound Up Together":
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s Art and the Politics of Voting
Thursday, February 13, 6:00 pm

Over the span of four decades, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper solidified herself as a race woman, as a public intellectual, and as the foremost Black poet of the nineteenth century. This panel will examine how Frances Harper engaged the coming of the Fifteenth Amendment through her body of work.

About the scholars:
Dr. Karla Zelaya - Assistant Professor of English at UNA and co-founder of UNA's new Black Studies program
Dr. Julia Bernier - Assistant Professor of History at UNA and co-founder of UNA's new Black Studies program
Jason McCall - Assistant Professor of English at UNA, specializing in creative writing


Shoals Black History Presents:
A History of Voting from Reconstruction to Present
Tuesday, February 18, 6:00 pm

Board members from Project Say Something have curated a voting rights exhibit with a special focus on the local history collected through their Shoals Black History project (shoalsblackhistory.omeka.net). In this program, they will discuss the history of and challenges to Black suffrage through four eras: Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and the present.


Voter Restoration
with the Alabama Voting Rights Diversity Alliance
Thursday, February 20, 5:00 pm

Learn about Alabama laws related to voter restoration for citizens who have lost their voting rights due to felony convictions. This program is led by Bonita Gill, Coordinator of the Alabama Voting Rights Diversity Alliance (AVRDA). AVRDA is a grassroots coalition that works to increase voter turnout and coordinates voting rights restoration workshops. This event is co-sponsored by Project Say Something.


Buried Truths Podcast Listening Session
Tuesday, February 25, 11:30 am

Join us as we listen to the civil rights podcast "Buried Truths." We'll listen to and discuss the first episode of Season 1, which explores the story of Isiah Nixon, an African American man who was murdered because he voted. If you are unfamiliar with podcasts, library staff will be on hand to show you how you can listen to the rest of "Buried Truths." This event is a preview for our "Buried Truths" live recording at FLPL on February 27.


Buried Truths Live:
Civil Rights in the Shoals
Thursday, February 27, 6:00 pm

The Shoals area has a reputation for having experienced more peaceful race relations during the civil rights movement than much of the South. But does that reputation tell the whole story? Hank Klibanoff—Pulitzer Prize-winning author, veteran journalist, and now professor—and Sherhonda Allen—journalist for the TimesDaily—will explore this question as they co-host a live recording of an episode for Klibanoff’s Peabody-winning podcast "Buried Truths."

Hank, a white man, was a student at Coffee High School when the schools of Florence integrated. Sherhonda, an African American woman, started school at Brooks Elementary shortly after the onset of integration. Through discussion, interviews, and Q&A, Hank and Sherhonda will explore the Black and White experience in the Shoals during the civil rights era and beyond, discussing topics such as integration, voting rights, and more. Audience members are encouraged to share their own stories and perspectives, as well.

"Buried Truths" is a narrative civil rights history podcast that investigates still-relevant stories of injustice, resilience, and racism in the American South. It is produced by NPR affiliate WABE in Atlanta. The first two seasons are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other major podcast platforms.

This project is co-sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state partner with the National Endowment for the Humanities; the UNA Mitchell-West Center for Social Inclusion; and the UNA Department of Communications.


Voices of Women's Suffrage:
A Living History Presentation
Saturday, March 7, 1:00 pm

Get an overview of the suffrage movement while hearing the words of the suffragists themselves with this living history performance
by Stephanie Vickers.

Throughout the seventy-two-year struggle to win the American woman’s right to vote, women had to constantly push forward to be heard—especially as public speakers.

This program highlights the dynamic shifts in the different ways women began to speak for their beliefs. Performance excerpts from plays, magazine articles, and famous speeches bring to life the unique voices of the brave women who dared to speak out and fight for their place in American citizenship.

Stephanie Vickers is a public historian and interpretation specialist who combines storytelling with academic research. She is the Arts Integration Coordinator at the Tennessee Valley Art Association.


Votes for Women:
The Push for a Federal Amendment & the Reemergence of Division Among Suffragists, 1913-1920
Thursday, March 12, 6:00 pm

Dr. Lynne Rieff will share the fascinating & dramatic stories from the final years of the fight for women's suffrage. She will discuss the stalled efforts to accomplish suffrage at the state level and explore Alabama's role, and she will discuss the differing strategies that emerged among suffragists during the fight for a federal amendment.

Dr. Lynne Rieff is Professor of History at UNA & the Director of the UNA Center for Women's Studies, which is a co-sponsor for this event.


Abolition, Women's Suffrage, and the Right to Vote
Sunday, March 15, 2:00 pm

Many suffragists first became involved in activism through the abolition movement (the fight to end slavery). While the two movements overlapped significantly, there was also friction, particularly with the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. Historian Linda T. Wynn will explore these collaborations and clashes, as well as discussing the roles that racism and sexism played in the relationship between the movements.

Linda T. Wynn is the Assistant Director for State Programs for the Tennessee Historical Commission. She also is a Lecturer of History at Fisk University.


Women of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
Tuesday, March 24, 6:00 pm

Learn about the lives and work of local women in this women's history talk by Dr. Carolyn Barske Crawford, Director of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area. This program is based on the exhibit of the same name and explores some of the contributions women of the MSNHA have made in the areas of education, philanthropy, business, performing arts, and exploration.

The exhibit was co-created by Josh Grigsby, Julia McGee, and Lacie Rowe through an Exhibit Design course at UNA, in anticipation of the Nineteenth Amendment centennial. There is also an educator packet available for teachers at msnha.una.edu/resources.


Voter Registration Concert
Saturday, March 28, 12:00 pm

Join us for an afternoon of live music celebrating our freedom to vote! The League of Women Voters of the Shoals will be on cite to help you register to vote. More details coming soon.