Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Voting Rights for All


This speech is dedicated to the protection and further defining Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for all.

Voting Rights for All

            Imagine that you have just turned 18 and now have the legal right to vote. Lucky for you have come of age to have the right to vote just before the campaigning for the presidential elections will begin. Your first time voting will now be unforgettable for you will be a part of choosing the next person to be in charge of running the United States of America, among other things, of course. Now, months later after all the campaigning and presidential debates, it is the morning of Election Day and you make sure to be on time to your designated area of voting so that there is plenty of allotted time for you to go about the rest of your day to run errands. Now imagine, your turn in line finally comes, only for you to be rejected because of your race/ethnicity or gender. Imagine you get to your assigned voting location only to find out that it has been, conveniently, switched at the last moment. Imagine that the line to vote is so long when you get there that you wait until you can no longer cast a vote because time has run out and now you didn’t get to vote and your right to vote no longer means anything. These instances happened in the past, present, and will happen in the future if there is no call to action. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 needs to be amended and reaffirmed. Doing so is the only way to ensure protection of voting rights for all.

            Almost 48 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights activists led by him on a peaceful protest in Selma, Alabama and were viciously attacked. This tragic event is what ultimately led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by former President Lyndon B. Johnson, in front of the U.S. Congress and Members of the Cabinet. The act prohibited “discrimination based on race, and requires certain jurisdictions to provide bilingual assistance to language minority voters.” (History of the VRA) Section 5 requires “covered” states “to obtain “preclearance” from either the District Court for the District of Columbia or the U.S. Attorney General for any new voting practices and procedures.” (Voting Rights Act (1965)) This was a monumental victory for the followers and activists of the Civil Rights movement and signs of progress within our country. It has barely been a century since the signing of the act in 1965 and just nearly a decade since the act was reaffirmed in 2006.

As you all may know, right now the current constitutionality of the act is in question by the Supreme Court because of the Shelby County v. Holder case. For those of you that do not know, Shelby County’s petition was granted in November of 2012 and limited to one important question: “Whether Congress decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.” (Shelby County, Alabama, Petitioner v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General, et al.). Now this speaker who stands here before you does not think Congress exceeded its authority and did not violate any amendments. The speaker before you firmly believes in what the act currently represents and what the act should represent. The act is absolutely necessary for any one person that says racism and prejudice is dead and long gone is na├»ve. Yes, we as a people have come a long way and made much progress, but in regards to ensuring protection for one’s right to vote from racism and prejudice has a long ways to go, and, perhaps, we may never be rid of them, fully. But a way to make certain that we as a people are coming closer to being rid of them is to protect ourselves from room for error.

That is why this speaker believes that the act is completely necessary and should be amended, but not in the ways that Shelby County may hope for. The act should be amended so that all 50 states in America are made “covered” states. Doing so will make certain that no matter where one lives in a state, that their rights to vote are protected from any kind of discrimination from all states actions in regards to voting to being better monitored. This will make it more of a certainty that states cannot shut down poll booths early or make people wait in seemingly endless lines to cast their votes or switch the designated voting location at the last moment. This act is absolutely necessary and should protect all from discrimination by every single state. I leave you all with this quote: “"This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. It gives people, people as individuals, control over their own destinies." – Lyndon B. Johnson.

Nicole Wood

Sources:

United States. Supreme Court of the United States. Shelby County, Alabama, Petitioner v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General, et al. Washington, D.C.: Supreme Court of the United States, 2013. Web. http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.aspx?FileName=/docketfiles/12-96.htm

United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Voting Rights Act (1965). College Park. Web.http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=100.

United States. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. History of the VRA. Washington, D.C. Web. http://www.civilrights.org/voting-rights/vra/johnson-speech.html.

United States. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. President Johnson Speech at Voting Rights Act Passage. Washington, D.C. Web. http://www.civilrights.org/voting-rights/vra/johnson-speech.html. (Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965. Volume II, entry 394, pp. 811-815. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1966.)


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Rhetorical Analysis Of Two Speeches


Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger Of A Single Story - October 7, 2009


Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have A Dream Speech - August 28, 1963

Rhetorical Analysis:

Chimamanda Adichie is a novelist and a story teller who gave a persuasive speech on what she calls, "The Danger Of A Single Story". This danger has the power to start and fuel the vicious cycles of prejudice, racism, and stereotypes that steals dignity from an individual as well as a specific groups of peoples. Adichie presented her speech on a website called Ted.com. Her objective was to persuade everyone to tell and share their stories with everyone so that there is no "single story" to define any one person or group. She truly believes that, although it may take a great deal of time to undo what damage has already been done, this is the only way to break the vicious cycles of prejudice, racism, and stereotypes and shows evidence in her presentation from real life and personal experiences. Adichie is extremely successful in persuasively reaching her audience by using logos, pathos, and ethos. Her delivery is passionate and shows how comfortable she is as her own person. Adichie's voice and demeanor makes it so easy to listen to her words and message with such mesmerizing fascination. She uses logos and pathos when using real life and personal examples as well as quotes from people such as John Locke to support her arguement and to provide evidence. Ethos is used when she uses humor and also when she tells a personal story so much so that when she is telling the various stories one can feel ashamed and guilty for ever falling for the single story and one can feel empathy for knowing what it is like when someone has used a single story to define you as a person, all at once.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a clergyman, activists, and leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement. He presented this speech, one of, if not, his most famous speech in Washington, D.C. King's speech is on equality for all no matter what race/ethnicity and gender, but specificially the equal rights and treatment of Afircan American/Blacks. His speech speaks of his dreams of no more racism and prejudice towards anyone and equality for all. His delivery is full of passion and energy which brings one's spirits up and empowers one to fight for equal rights and to stop racism and prejudice. He even quotes and references small parts of "The Getttsburg Address" and of accomplishments Abraham Lincoln greatly assisted in making a reality. Such references and quotes us a a strong way of successfully using logos and pathos; which he is victorious at doing. King also uses references of current events going on at the time or prior to his speech. He engages the audience which is a great use of ethos because the audience's feelings of the speaker and the message of speech is enhanced and solidified. The tone of his voice has a preacher essence which gives the speech a rhythmic sound making it easy to listen and wanting to listen. 


Both speakers present persuasive speeches and deliver them in such a way that keeps the audience riveted, full of energy, and just as passionate. In their own ways, both speakers advocate for equality, express the dangers of racism, prejudice, and stereotypes from the past, present, and future, and urge the audience to get involved to help change the ongoing events. Both speeches use logos, pathos, and ethos in some way to get the attention of the audience, educate the audience, and flow passion into the audience. Although there is a huge time gap between when the two speeches were presented, both share the persuasive message of the call for equality and how individuals and groups should perceive themselves and others. The message of the speakers is that we have the power to make the changes and that we should, together. The locations the speakers presented at shows the evident time difference and the difference in how information is shared and spread currently and back in King's day. We have come a long ways since and before the time of Martin Luther to Chimamanda Adichie. However, Adichie's speech shows that there is so much more progress and change that still has to be made and perhaps has even yet to come. Both speakers styles are effective ways of persuading the need for change and how to go about it. 

-Nicole Wood 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Voting Rights Act needs to stay


Why is The Voting Rights Act of 1965 vital to the people of the United States? The question arises because of the most recent case, Shelby County v. Holder, in which the small county in Alabama challenged the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in July of 2012, while Eric Holder, Attorney General, defends it.

The petition by Shelby County was granted in November of 2012 and limited to one important question: “Whether Congress decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.” (Shelby County, Alabama, Petitioner v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General, et al.) If the Supreme Court rules Section 5 to be constitutional, the act will remain the same until 2031 or until it is challenged again. However, if Section 5 is found unconstitutional, Congress will be forced to come together to amend something which they reaffirmed only seven years earlier with “a unanimous vote in the Senate and nearly unanimous vote in the House.” (Leahy)

It has been nearly 48 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights activists led by him on a peaceful protest in Selma, Alabama and were viciously attacked. This unfortunate and historical event led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act by former President Lyndon B. Johnson, in front of the U.S. Congress and Members of the Cabinet. The act prohibited “discrimination based on race, and requires certain jurisdictions to provide bilingual assistance to language minority voters.” (History of the VRA) Section 5 requires “covered” states “to obtain “preclearance” from either the District Court for the District of Columbia or the U.S. Attorney General for any new voting practices and procedures.” (Voting Rights Act (1965)) This was a monumental victory for the followers and activists of the Civil Rights movement and signs of progress within our country.

The act itself has not even existed for a century and it has barely been a decade since the act was reaffirmed. With how long it actually took for the writing and signing of the act and with how many thousands of people leading up to it and even after were violently attacked or even killed over the right to vote and to have their vote count, how could anyone possibly say that the existence of the act and all that it stands for is unconstituional and unnecesary? Unfortunately, there are many today who believe it is unconstitutional and unnecessary. Justice Antonin Scalia seems to find the act unnecessary and unconstitutional after being quoted for asking lawyers defending the act “whether maintaining the pre-clearance formula for nine “covered” states, which are subject to federal oversight, was really just a “racial entitlement” program and not a constitutional necessity.” (Troutt) Luckily, there are also many who believe it is still constitutional and necessary. Chairman Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee believes in the constitutionality and necessity of the act and is quoted saying that “The right to vote and to have your vote count is a foundational right because it secures the effectiveness of the other protections of the law and the Constitution… Ensuring that all Americans are able to vote and have their vote counted should be an issue of concern to Democrats and Republicans, and a matter of conscience for all of us regardless of political party.” (Leahy)

The act is completely necessary and contitutional. The only thing that should have been and should be changed is the number of "covered" states that need to obtain "preclearance". It should have always been all 50 states to completely ensure protection from discrimination of the right to vote for all. However, in the event that the Supreme Court rules Section 5 to be unconstitutional and the ball is thrown back into the court of the Congress to be amended, this would be the opportune time to make it a reality. By doing so, there will be two outcomes. First, this will ensure the voting rights of all individuals, regardless of race/ethnicity and gender, are protected from discrimination . Second, requiring all 50 states to be “covered” will project a kind of uniformity throughout the country and will get rid of any speculations or arguments of discrimination being directed at the past and present “covered” states and favoritism of those current states not or no longer “covered”.

Former President Johnson once said, “Until every qualified person regardless of . . . the color of his skin has the right, unquestioned and unrestrained, to go in and cast his ballot in every precinct in this great land of ours, I am not going to be satisfied.” (President Johnson Speech at Voting Rights Act Passage) We, as the people of the United States, should not be satisfied either. The Voting Rights act not only needs to stay, but it also needs to ensure protection from discrimination from all 50 states.

-Nicole Wood
 
Sources:
                                                                                                  
Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman Patrick. United States. Senate Judiciary Committee. Judiciary Holds Hearing On Voting Rights Act And The 2012 Elections. Washington, D.C. 2012. Web. http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/judiciary-holds-hearing-on-voting-rights-act-and-the-2012-elections.

Troutt, David Dante. "Voting Rights: Scalia v. minority protection." Reauters (The Great Debate). 05 Mar 2013: n. page. Web. 12 Mar. 2013. http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/03/05/voting-rights-scalia-v-minority-protection/.

United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Voting Rights Act (1965). College Park. Web. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=100.

United States. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. History of the VRA. Washington, D.C. Web. http://www.civilrights.org/voting-rights/vra/johnson-speech.html.

United States. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. President Johnson Speech at Voting Rights Act Passage. Washington, D.C. Web. http://www.civilrights.org/voting-rights/vra/johnson-speech.html. (Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965. Volume II, entry 394, pp. 811-815. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1966.)

United States. Supreme Court of the United States. Shelby County, Alabama, Petitioner v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General, et al. Washington, D.C.: Supreme Court of the United States, 2013. Web. http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.aspx?FileName=/docketfiles/12-96.htm

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Press Release: Oberlin College

Ku Klux Klan Sighting
March 5, 2013 --- Oberlin College cancelled classes on Monday due to a report of an early morning sighting of a person dressed in hooded robed attire similar to that of the infamous Ku Klux Klan close to an African heritage building.

This is the most recent of several previous racist occurrences. A month ago, graffiti racist and Anti-Semitic messages were found on campus. After Monday classes were cancelled, many students came together and marched in protest of these recent racist occurrences and then met with professors to discuss mutual respect.
Oberlin College is located in Oberlin, Ohio which is in the middle of northern Ohio. This historically liberal college is in a city where the Underground Railroad once stopped at to aide escaped slaves. Two well-known alumni are Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO series “Girls”.

The racist occurrences at Oberlin College has left its campus community wary and in fear of walking around individually. The college president, Marvin Krislov, is hopeful that the most recent racist occurrences will lead to a stronger Oberlin campus community. 

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Nicole Wood

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Introduction

Welcome, to The Wood Report.

My name is Nicole Wood, I am 22 and currently a junior at CSUN hoping to garduate Fall 2014. This blog and all posts were created as an assignment for my English 306 class which I am currently taking. The blog itself is dedicated to current political issues.


Nicole Wood