Panel discussion at Metro explores threats to Voting Rights Act
April 17, 2017
Grammy-winning trumpeter and Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland artist-in-residence Terence Blanchard was part of an April 10 panel discussion focusing on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Joyce Foundation last year commissioned Blanchard to compose a piece about the act. Monday’s discussion was part of his information-gathering process.
“It’s unfortunate that we even needed to have a voting rights act, but it speaks to where we were at as a country, where we still are,” Blanchard said.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It has been under assault overtly and covertly. In 2013, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to strip some of its protections, claiming they were no longer relevant.
Last week’s discussion was wide-ranging and touched on racism, generational disagreements and the value of civic engagement. Most agreed that overcoming voter disenfranchisement and voter cynicism was key.
Panel members also included:
- Simona Epuran, a teacher at Cleveland State University who participated in the 1989 overthrow of the Communist regime in Romania.
- Jimi Izrael, a teacher at Tri-C who is also a commentator on CNN, NPR, BBC and more.
- Julian Rogers, director of community partnerships at CSU and a former Cuyahoga County Council member.
- R.A. Washington, a Cleveland writer, musician and activist who co-founded the now-closed Guide to Kulchur bookstore on Cleveland’s West Side.
Dr. Lauren Onkey, dean of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center at Tri-C, moderated the talk, which took place in the Black Box Theatre at the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts, located at Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus. The discussion was held in conjunction with the College’s “Stokes: Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future” Initiative. Learn more at http://stokes50cle.com/.