Historic right-to-vote law to be examined on 150th anniversary

Professor-led panel discussion, Q&A planned Feb. 10 at Mabel Tainter
​Jerry Poling | February 3, 2020

Constitutional law that ensured African-American men and other Americans had the right to vote and the implications of the law today will be highlighted in a University of Wisconsin-Stout program.

A panel discussion led by four history professors, A Promise Imperiled: The Fifteenth Amendment on its 150th Anniversary, will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10, at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, 205 Main St. E. The event is free and open to the public.

The professors, Le’Trice Donaldson, Chris Freeman, Chris Marshall and David Seim, each will speak for 15 minutes on aspects of the law, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Although the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government and states from preventing a citizen to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude," its enforcement still hasn’t been fully realized, according to Seim.

“The process of confirming unequivocally equal voting rights for every U.S. citizen of voting age remains a work in progress. As the 2020 U.S. presidential election begins, we will freely contemplate big and still bigger dreams for all-inclusive government ‘by the people,’ ” Seim said.

The amendment was ratified Feb. 3, 1870.

Freeman, the event host, will open with comments about the “importance of history for understanding democracy as a work in progress while the other historians will look at the amendment in terms of its origin and its imperiled state in Wisconsin today,” he said.

With the April primary elections approaching and the fall elections, voting rights in Wisconsin have made headlines because of a recent ruling that would remove 209,000 people from the state voter rolls. The ruling has been put on hold by a state appeals court.

The panel discussion is sponsored by the UW-Stout social science department, with support from the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts.

UW-Stout has a bachelor’s program in applied social science with a concentration in history and politics or a minor in history.

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The Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts will be the site of a UW-Stout panel discussion Monday, Feb. 10, to mark the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution on voting rights.


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