Give Us the Ballot

  • by Ari Berman
  • Narrated by Tom Zingarelli
  • 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The adoption of the landmark Voting Rights Act in 1965 enfranchised millions of Americans and is widely regarded as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. Yet fifty years later, we are still fighting heated battles over race, representation, and political power - over the right to vote, the central pillar of our democracy.
A groundbreaking narrative history of voting rights since 1965, Give Us the Ballot tells the story of what happened after the act was passed. Through meticulous archival research, fresh interviews with the leading participants in the ongoing struggle, and incisive on-the-ground reporting, Ari Berman chronicles the transformative impact the act had on American democracy and investigates how the fight over the right to vote has continued in the decades since. From new strategies to keep minorities out of the voting booth to cynical efforts to limit political representation by gerrymandering electoral districts to the Supreme Court's recent stunning decision that declared a key part of the Voting Rights Act itself unconstitutional, Berman tells the dramatic story of the pitched contest over the very heart of our democracy. At this important historical moment, Give Us the Ballot brings new insight to one of the most vital political and civil rights issues of our time.

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What the Critics Say

"Not just a compelling history, but a cry for help in the recurring struggle to gain what is supposed to be an inalienable right." (Kirkus, starred review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

In-Depth Blow by Blow Account of the VRA

This is definitely a worthwhile listen that covers Enfranchisement to Disenfranchisement to Enfranchisement again (to current possible Disenfranchisement). It starts with LBJ and the Voters Rights Act's beginning and lists every single struggle and slap in the face Blacks, the poor, the invisible have faced along the way to now.
There are heroes and most certainly villains, boos and cheers, and it's absolutely extraordinary that here, in what we'd like to believe is the World's Greatest Democracy, gross handling and mishandling of the law exists. We're supposed to be better than what this history chronicles. But obviously, we're not.
While most certainly a good book, "Give Us the Ballot" could've used some editing. I mean, truly, this is a book dedicated to the details of the horrific. At just over 12 hours, you get EVERYthing.
Still, it's an eye-opener, and it'll make you more motivated to be engaged in conversations being had by those in power. Because what they've done, whether it be gerrymandering to blatant voter suppression laws, makes you think of Big Brother states.
Wait a second. "They've"? Perhaps more like, "We've". After all, we've let them get away with it for a long, long time...
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- Gillian "SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!"

Engrossing Narrative History of VRA

Berman says that the 1965 Voting Rights Amendment spawned an equally committed group of counterrevolutionaries. Since the V.R.A.’s passage, they have waged a decades-long campaign to restrict voting right. Berman argues that these counterrevolutionaries have in recent years controlled a majority on the Supreme Court and have set their sights on undoing the accomplishment of the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

Berman explores how the debate over voting rights for the past 50 years has been a debate between two competing visions: Should the Voting Rights Act “simply provide access to the ballot,” as conservatives claim, or should it “police a much broader scope of the election system, which includes encouraging greater representation for African-American and other minority groups”? Every time the VRA comes up for renewal, from 1969 to 2006 the broader interpretation is endorsed by the Congress. The Supreme Court repeatedly responded by imposing the narrower interpretation by judicial fiat. Berman goes into great detail citing Supreme Court actions during this timeframe up to and including the Roberts’ Court to date.

Berman shows how various Republican Presidents chose to do nothing that would affect their standing with black votes except for the gradual redistricting to create majority white or black districts.

In 2013 the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote struck down the formula Congress had adopted in 1965 and renewed for identifying jurisdictions subject to federal oversight. Chief Justice Roberts held that it violated the Constitution. In her blistering dissent Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Congress, not the Court, had the constitutional authority to define progress in Voting Rights.

In 2014 fourteen States adopted voting restrictions. The numbers of voters potentially affected by new barriers to the ballot box exceeded the margin of victory in close races for Senate and Governors in North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia and Florida.
Berman provides a narrative history rather than constitutional analysis. He just documents what has happened to the V.R.A. and documented the shift from Congress to the Court of the V.R.A. The book contains so much information that I just provided you with some brief highlights to help you decide to read the book. This is a must read book for every voter in this country. Tom Zingarelli narrated the book.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-04-2015
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio