Eric Holder, Our Unfinished March, in conversation with Jelani Cobb

Jun
1

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A brutal, bloody, and at times hopeful history of the vote; a primer on the opponents fighting to take it away; and a playbook for how we can save our democracy before it’s too late — from the former U.S. Attorney General on the front lines of this fight

Voting is our most important right as Americans — “the right that protects all the others,” as Lyndon Johnson famously said when he signed the Voting Rights Act — but it’s also the one most violently contested throughout U.S. history. Since the gutting of the act in the landmark Shelby County v. Holder case in 2013, many states have passed laws restricting the vote. After the 2020 election, President Trump’s effort to overturn the vote has evolved into a slow-motion coup, with many Republicans launching an all-out assault on our democracy. The vote seems to be in unprecedented peril. 

But the peril is not at all unprecedented. America is a fragile democracy, Eric Holder argues, whose citizens have only had unfettered access to the ballot since the 1960s. He takes readers through three dramatic stories of how the vote was won: first by white men, through violence and insurrection; then by white women, through protests and mass imprisonments; and finally by African Americans, in the face of lynchings and terrorism. Next, he dives into how the vote has been stripped away since Shelby — a case in which Holder was one of the parties. He ends with visionary chapters on how we can reverse this tide of voter suppression and become a true democracy where every voice is heard and every vote is counted.

Full of surprising history, intensive analysis, and actionable plans for the future, Our Unfinished March is a powerful primer on our most urgent political struggle from one of the country's leading advocates.

Eric Holder is a civil rights leader who is chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. He served as the eighty-second attorney general of the United States, the first African American to hold that office. Now a senior counsel at Covington & Burling, he lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, and they have three children.

Jelani Cobb is the Director of the Lipman Center for Journalism in Civil and Human Rights at Columbia University and a professor at Columbia Journalism School. He has been a Staff Writer at the New Yorker since 2015 and in 2018 was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary. He is the author and editor of six books, including The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from the New Yorker. His 2020 film "Whose Vote Counts?" received the Peabody Award for News Documentary.

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