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Courts

Jim Crow’s Last Stand

The legacy of Jim Crow continues to loom large in the United States. But nowhere is it arguably more evident than in Louisiana. In 1898, a constitutional convention successfully codified a slew of Jim Crow laws in a flagrant effort to disenfranchise black voters and otherwise infringe on their rights. “Our mission was to establish the supremacy of the…

Major Supreme Court Decisions (And Where to Find Them)

There were two major United States Supreme Court decisions handed down today, on partisan gerrymandering and on a possible citizenship question for the 2020 census form. There will be significant commentary – some informed, some not – about these decisions, but it’s worth reading them in full.  Like most decisions, they’re lengthy, yet always worth…

Treatment Courts as Practical Success Stories

Treatment courts, whether for drunk driving or drug abuse, have been successful in jurisdictions across the country.  Counties from coast to coast – red or blue – have seen positive outcomes from judicially-overseen treatment programs.  Despite this, there’s been opposition to a drug treatment court in rural Walworth County, sadly beset by addictions of various…

Local Elections 2019: Municipal Court (Part 4 of 4)

Whitewater has a municipal court, and since a municipal court then a municipal judge presiding over that court. In the course of the campaign between Chad Buehler and Patrick Taylor, the candidates have discussed questions of experience, background, and perspective.  They’ve both offered outlines of how they would serve, but they both face this same…

Scenes from the Alabama Walworth County Legal System

One reads that Walworth County treatment courts face uncertain future after DA questions role: The future of Walworth County’s treatment courts is uncertain after District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld at a special meeting Tuesday questioned his office’s participation in the programs and its level of control over who enters them. Most questions from Tuesday’s meeting went…

‘This is not a close decision’: Federal Judge Strikes Down Lame-Duck Changes to Wisconsin Voting Laws

Laurel White reports Federal Judge Strikes Down Lame-Duck Changes To Wisconsin Voting Laws: The restrictions limited early voting in Wisconsin to the two weeks before an election. In recent years, cities including the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and Madison have offered several weeks of early voting. Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the new restrictions into…

‘Family of Milwaukee man killed by Walworth deputy in botched drug sting files federal lawsuit’

Bruce Vielmetti reports Family of Milwaukee man killed by Walworth deputy in botched drug sting files federal lawsuit: The family of a 21-year-old Milwaukee man killed by a Walworth County sheriff’s deputy during a botched drug sting has sued the county, two municipal governments and several officers, who the family suspects destroyed dashcam video of…

Resolution & Defiance

Historian Blair L.M. Kelley describes What Civil Rights History Can Teach Kavanaugh’s Critics:

People watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on monitors in an overflow room in the Dirksen Senate Building during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings last month. Credit Damon Winter/New York Times

But in the end, these turn-of-the-20th-century African-American activists [in Richmond and dozens of other southern cities in 1904] could not stop Jim Crow’s advance. Their suits, sit-ins, letter-writing campaigns, boycotts, marches and impassioned pleas to lawmakers failed to make a difference when legislators were determined to segregate no matter the costs. Segregation or exclusion became the law of the land in the American South, and remained so for many years, separating black and white Southerners not only on trains and streetcars but also in schools, neighborhoods, libraries, parks and pools.

Progressives, liberals and sexual assault survivors and all those who desire a more just and decent America and who feel they lost when Kavanaugh was confirmed despite their protest should remember Mitchell, Plessy, Walker and Wells, along with Elizabeth Jennings, James Pennington, Lola Houck, Louis A. Martinet, Rodolphe Desdunes, P.B.S. Pinchback, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary Church Terrell, J. Max Barber and many others, including those whose names we do not know. All of these men and women were on the side of justice and lost. None of these people, who fought for full and equal public access as free citizens on trains and streetcars, stopped fighting. None abandoned what they knew was right. They all tried again. Most would not live to see things made right, but they continued.

Those who see Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a lost battle in the larger war for gender equality and dignity for women — and sexual assault survivors, specifically — should emulate the activists of generations past. They should keep organizing, connect with like-minded people, volunteer for organizations that advocate for survivors, consider running for office, and work on the campaigns of those they believe in. A week after his confirmation, a reminder is in order: Movements are about more than moments; they are about thoughtful networks of dissent built over time.

My scholarship has taught me that activism requires a certain resilience, and the willingness to be long-suffering in pursuit of the cause. I hope people remember this. I hope they keep going.

 

 

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