On March 25, 2022, Millions of Conversations partnered with the Grand Challenge Initiative on Racial Justice & the Third Reconstruction (RJ3) to host the fourth installment of the Racial Justice Teachout series. In this virtual event, we brought together an academic, a community organizer, and an elected official to discuss the fight against voter suppression and what solutions lay ahead. The discussion broke down the threat of gerrymandering and focused on how it targets voting rights in minority communities.
Moderated by Claire Sisco King, Associate Professor in Communication Studies and Cinema Media Art at Vanderbilt University, the panel included Dr. Sophie Bjork-James, Charlane Oliver, and Sen. Jeff Yarbro.
Dr. Bjork-James is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University whose research focuses on U.S.-based religious right and white nationalists movements. She is the co-editor of Beyond Populism and the author of The Divine Institution: White Evangelicalism’s Politics of the Family.
Oliver is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Equity Alliance, a Tennessee based non-profit organization that builds electoral power among the Black electorate by supporting and funding candidates of color, helping elect school board members, city council members, legislators, etc.
And finally, State Senator and Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro is a Democrat representing the 21st district of Tennessee. A lawyer at Bass, Berry, and Sims, he specialized in a pro-bono program for civil liberties and class action legal issues.
Here’s what we learned from this trio’s conversation.