Public Programs

Getting to the Point on Voting Rights

Join the Kennedy Institute for a conversation on voting rights and hear from former Congressional staff who helped ensure passage of the Voting Rights Act, grassroots organizations that garnered national support for the landmark legislation, and how the United States is currently facing similar crises around disenfranchisement.

The Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965, has undergone multiple revisions in Congress. Senator Edward M. Kennedy was a staunch supporter of the legislation and had advocated for the elimination of the poll tax prior to its passage. Throughout his time in the United States Senate, Senator Kennedy worked with members of Congress, staff, and grassroots organizations to ensure that all voices were heard. Despite this work and law, many voters across the country are still disenfranchised.

Moderated by Ari Berman, senior reporter at Mother Jones and author of “Give Us the Ballot,” the conversation will include:

Lydia Camarillo, President, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project

Antonia Hernandez, President and CEO, California Community Fund, former Senate Committee on the Judiciary staff

Mark Schneider, former Director of the U.S. Peace Corps and former Foreign Policy Advisor and Legislative Assistant, Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Burton Wides, former Chief Counsel to Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Philip Hart, and Paul Sarabanes, former Special Counsel to President Jimmy Carter

Video Resource

Additional Resources

  • Getting to the Point with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

    Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Stephen Breyer will participate in a moderated conversation with Nina Totenberg, NPR’s award-winning legal affairs correspondent, about the vital role the Supreme Court plays in providing checks and balances on the federal government, the importance of nominations to the bench and how elections impact these decisions, and the recent rulings of the court.

  • 2020 MAAH Stone Book Award

    Join the Museum of African American History, the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate for the 2020 MAAH Stone Book Award Virtual Event. Now in its third year, the Award is an annual prize that encourages scholarship and writing within the field of African American history and culture by awarding a $25,000 prize and two $5,000 finalist prizes for exceptional adult non-fiction books written in a literary style.

  • The Citizens' Choice: Ranked Choice Voting

    Join the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate and the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts for a Constitution Day forum on Massachusetts’s Ballot Question #2. The moderated discussion will cover both sides of the Ranked Choice Voting initiative as Commonwealth voters prepare to head to the polls in November.