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He was 24 and had just returned from Korea, where he served as an Air Force officer, but he was also a black man in the American South, so he wasn’t entirely surprised when his efforts at the registrar’s office were blocked. To justify the bill’s necessity, supporters pointed to an audit the state conducted last year under a new provision of the law that requires it to crosscheck its voting rolls with those of other states. (“He’s doing a great job,” Michaux said.) Republicans view him as a “demagogue,” as Wrenn called him. “It’s disgusting,” she said, spitting out the word like stale gum. ”Selma, in this case, was a heavily fortified, wood-paneled federal courtroom in Winston-Salem.

Adopting a tactic common in the Jim Crow South, the registrar subjected Frye to what election officials called a literacy test. It had identified 35,000 potential double registrations. As the sun began a hazy descent that Sunday, four generations of civil rights activists filed into the church, led by the grande dame of the trial, Rosanell Eaton, 94, a black N. Barber approached the lectern in a bright fuchsia shirt and red prayer shawl. The next morning it was filled with the lawyers from the five legal teams, including that of the Justice Department.

"Trust (even of one's own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer." Is this America's future? Women were once thought too emotional to vote, interracial couples were outlawed, blacks enslaved. "Like it or not, the country is going to look more like it should -- more brown folks, more yellow folks, more gay folks, more mixed folks," he says.

He says his children won't see race the same way that he or other generations did. It's easy to be pessimistic, he says, but his profession teaches him to look past the headlines.

“It’s not quite what it was a long time ago,” he said.

Pondering for a minute, he laughed and added, “It’s more sophisticated now.”Correction: An article last Sunday about the 50-year fight over the Voting Rights Act referred incompletely to the significance of Georgia’s revised voter-ID Law.

In 1900, North Carolina voters amended the state’s Constitution to require that all new voters “be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language,” but for decades some registrars had been applying that already broad mandate even more aggressively, targeting perfectly literate black registrants with arbitrary and obscure queries, like which president served when or who had the ultimate power to adjourn Congress. The state’s division of elections commissioner, Kim Strach — whose husband is on the state team defending the law — told lawmakers, “It could be voter fraud,” though she acknowledged the possible duplicates could also be related to common bureaucratic errors. He ticked through the dramatic, violent history of the 1950s and 1960s that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act with a religious-political rage. The plaintiff’s lead attorney was Penda Hair, co-director of the civil rights group Advancement Project.

So all the old material will be left here for archival purposes, with comments turned off.“We are approaching it from a philosophical position,” Jay De Lancy, the group’s co-founder, told me. As he cast his “no” vote on the House floor, Michaux said, “You can take these 57 pages of abomination and confine them to the streets of hell for all eternity.”The Justice Department, the N. Outside, Barber had gathered a few thousand protesters, including some legends of the old movement, like Joseph Mc Neil, one of the four students who started the Woolworth’s sit-in, and Bob Zellner, the first white field secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.As the protest made its orderly way down Main Street, with the police directing traffic, I couldn’t help thinking about the words of Farr’s co-counsel, Butch Bowers."The Beck crowd was no more white than the Jon Stewart rally, but nobody in the news media described the Stewart crowd as overwhelmingly white," Plante says.'Hunkering down' One prominent observer of American culture suggests all Americans -- white, black and every other minority -- should be concerned about the future.

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