It’s hard to believe. In our sixth year with an African-American president, one-half century after passage of the Civil Rights Act and the bloody “Freedom Summer” of 1964, some Americans are still being denied the right to vote or facing government-erected obstacles to their exercise of the right on account of their race. Some states have adopted voter ID laws imposing unneeded requirements that tens of thousands of qualified voters can’t meet. Some have shortened voting hours or eliminated “early voting” days intended to accommodate people who’ll be out of town or can’t get away from their jobs on Election Day. Some persist in using outmoded, prone-to-malfunction voting machines that force would-be voters to stand in line for hours in order to cast their ballots. Those of us who were around 50 years ago this week, when the landmark civil rights law was passed, knew it wouldn’t be easy for the country to overcome its long, shameful history of discrimination. We were sad, but not surprised, when the hundreds of college kids who went south in that summer of ‘64 to work for civil rights were beaten and spat upon — and in three cases murdered. But we also had plenty of reason for hope, including the presence of a strong, bipartisan coalition in Congress in support of civil rights, and voting rights laws in particular. Where today’s Congress is all but paralyzed by partisanship, Capitol Hill in 1964 was a place where Democrats and Republicans often found ways to compromise on behalf of the public interest. There is a chance this week to advance the difficult work of recapturing that spirit, and a new struggle for voting rights provides it.
National: Former Connecticut Secretary of the State Miles Rapoport to lead Common Cause | New Haven Register
Former Connecticut Secretary of the State Miles Rapoport will be the next president and chief executive officer of Common Cause, a national non-profit government watchdog agency. The agency announced Rapoport’s appointment in a news release Tuesday. Rapoport, a Democrat who served as Secretary of the State from 1995-99 and as a state representative from 1985-95, has been president of Demos, another non-profit watchdog agency, since 2001. He will succeed former congressman Bob Edgar, who died suddenly last April after leading the organization for six years. Rapoport starts his new job March 10.