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Edmundites to host NAACP Legal Defense Fund voting rights webinar

A Catholic religious order known for work with African Americans will host a webinar tonight on disenfranchisement and possible responses.

(NAACP LDF/Twitter)

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund will hold a virtual panel on voting rights Saturday evening in Selma, Alabama, featuring legal scholars and advocates from around the country.

From Selma to SCOTUS: The March Ahead for Voting Rights” will stream live at 5pm ET from the headquarters of the Edmundites, a Catholic religious order known for its support of the civil rights movement and work with African Americans.

“As we await critical Supreme Court decisions this spring—including Merrill v. Milligan, LDF’s challenge to Alabama’s congressional map—the roundtable will frame the consequences for the Voting Rights Act and state law protections, while also defining tactics to defend and advance voting rights beyond the courts,” the event description reads.

“With expert analysis from advocates, activists, and artists, we will discuss the prospects of national legislative reform and strategies to employ in our communities—from organizing, to narrative change, and sustained civic activation.”

Speakers will include LDF president Janai Nelson and associate director-general Tona Boyd, alongside U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama, former U.S. HUD secretary Julián Castro, Advancement Project head Judithe Browne Dianis, and Maya Wiley, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

The moderator for the event will be MSNBC’s Joy Reid, the first Black woman to host a show on primetime TV, with her top-rated politics talk show “The ReidOut.”

The LDF, founded by leaders of the NAACP in 1940, is best known for handling the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, which reached the Supreme Court and outlawed public school segregation. The group also litigated Shelly v. Kraemer concerning housing discrimination, Loving v. Virginia on interracial marriage, and Furman v. Georgia, which temporarily outlawed state-level capital punishment in the 1970s.

In the 21st century, the LDF has become involved in various voting rights cases, including Shelby County v. Holder, a 2013 case wherein the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965—which had been signed in part because of civil rights demonstrations in the Deep South, including those assisted by the Edmundites in Selma.

The case explicitly cited by the LDF concerning today’s “From Selma to SCOTUS” event, Alabama’s Merrill v. Milligan, also involves the organization’s attorneys. A looming decision on it from the Supreme Court could strike down another section of the Voting Rights Act, on gerrymandered congressional districts that disenfranchise Black voters.

The LDF panel will stream live on Facebook and no registration or account is required.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger and a seminarian with the Josephites.

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