Hooks Institute to examine voting in Tennessee and the nation at annual policy papers presentation

Sept. 14, 2020 — As we head into one of the most critical election seasons in our nation's history, the Hooks Institute presents an in-depth discussion on voting rights, voter engagement and apathy and tactics to suppress voting. The event will be held Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m. and will be livestreamed on the Hooks Institute’s Facebook page (@benhooksinstitute).

The Hooks Institute has assembled a panel of experts who will address:

• “Voting With Conviction: Voting Rights and Voting Restoration in Tennessee," by Shanna Singh Hughey and Dawn Schluckebier. The paper explores the history of efforts to secure voting rights and to confront voter suppression before delving deeply into the most significant example of formal voter disenfranchisement – the potentially permanent removal of voting rights after conviction for a felony. Hughey, an attorney, is the president of ThinkTennessee, and Schluckebier is the director of Advocacy and Government Relations. ThinkTennessee is a Nashville-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research and advocacy organization for pragmatic ideas that creates civic and economic opportunities that move Tennessee forward.

• “The Criminalization of the Ballot Box: Navigating the Rise of Voter Prosecution, Charting a Path of Resistance,” by Mitchell Brown describes the use of voter prosecution to punish individuals who have “wrongfully voted,” a practice that can intimidate entire communities from exercising their collective power through voting. Brown, an attorney, is an Equal Justice Fellow, sponsored by the Ottinger Foundation, with the Southern Coalition for Justice in Durham, North Carolina.  The Southern Coalition for Justice mission includes protecting voting rights of people of color and strengthening civic participation for all.

• “#UpTheVote901 and the Fight for Democracy in Memphis/Shelby County,” by Dr. Earle Fisher and Sijuwola Crawford outlines the challenges of increasing voter engagement to overcome a hidden form of voter suppression – voter apathy. Fisher is the founder of #UptheVote901 and Crawford is the chief operations officer. #UpTheVote901 is a grassroots organization whose mission to is educate, register and empower citizens to improve the social and political conditions in Memphis and Shelby County.

Daniel Kiel, Hooks Institute associate director and FedEx professor of law, UofM Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, will moderate the panel discussion.

The topics covered by the panelists will be made available online with the release of the 2020 Hooks Institute policy papers on the night of the event. 

About the Hooks Institute Policy Papers
The Hooks Institute Policy Papers are published annually about current civil rights, social justice and equity issues. The papers provide a review of the issues and offer recommendations toward solutions for policymakers, civic and business leaders and the greater community.

About the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change
The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute implements its mission of teaching, studying and promoting civil rights and social change through research, education and direct intervention programs. Institute programs include community outreach; funding faculty research initiatives on community issues; implementing community service projects; hosting conferences, symposiums and lectures; and promoting local and national scholarship on civil and human rights. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis. Contributed revenue for the Hooks Institute, including funding from individuals, corporations and foundations, is administered through the University of Memphis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Visit memphis.edu/benhooks for more information.

Nathaniel Ball | 901.678.3655 l ncball@memphis.edu