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“Vanguard: Leading on Voting Rights, Leading the Nation” by Professor Martha S. Jones 
March 18 at 4 p.m. on Zoom 

A joint Schell Lecture and Gunderson Lecture in honor of Women's History Month

Sponsored by the Department of History with support from the Knudson School of Law, Office for Diversity, Center for Diversity & Community, University of South Dakota Libraries and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program.

Speaker: Professor Martha S. Jones

Professor Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy.

When Vice President Kamala Harris invoked six women from the past in August 2020, she explained it was on their shoulders that she stood: Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Diane Nash, Fannie Lous Hamer and Constance Baker Motley. Harris is the inheritor of these women of the Vanguard. For them, the 19th Amendment was a milestone but not a victory. When we appreciate what an open secret Black women's disenfranchisement was in 1920, the facts of the 19th Amendment fit awkwardly with events that feature light shows, period costumes, and marching bands. Members of Congress who promulgated the 19th Amendment, state lawmakers who ratified it, and suffragists themselves all understood that nothing in its terms prohibited states from strategically using poll taxes, literacy tests, and understanding tests to keep Black women from registering to vote. Nothing in the new amendment promised to curb the intimidation and violence that threatened Black women who came out to polling places. Voting rights and voter suppression went hand in hand in 1920. Out of the ashes of these scenes, Black women built a new movement for voting rights, one that took them 45 years, until 1965, when they won passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Please register for this event using the form below. You will receive an email with a Zoom link before the lecture.

The Schell Lecture is sponsored by the USD Department of History and named after Dean Herbert S. Schell. The lecture honors his service by spreading knowledge of history throughout the campus and community to which he was devoted. 

The Gunderson Lecture is the Law School’s pre-eminent annual lecture and honors the memory of Clark Y. Gunderson, who devoted his life to legal education and public service. The lecture is provided through the LSF Trust Fund established by the Gunderson family.