On March 17, the Edith Garland Dupré Library hosted the second discussion of their Who Gets to Vote series, funded by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities (LEH). The event was facilitated by Theodore Foster Ph.D., a professor of African American history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
It was hosted on Zoom for registered participants and livestreamed to the Edith Garland Dupré YouTube channel for others. It was also live streamed to the Acadiana Open Channel (AOC) YouTube Channel.
“This series was developed by LEH and is intended to engage members of the public in conversations on the history of voting in the United States,” said Cheylon Woods, the Archivist and Head of the Ernest J. Gaines Center in the Edith Garland Dupré Library.
It was made possible due to a Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities grant, which was originally offered to the Lafayette Public Library, who declined it on the grounds of potential bias from the host. UL Lafayette President Joseph Savoie, Ph.D., sent out an email regarding these concerns in which he defended Foster’s objectivity.
“Dr. Foster is a dynamic and thoughtful scholar of Black life, culture and politics in our nation,” Savoie wrote in the email. “That he is qualified to facilitate this discussion and provide context to it is without question. The University, its students and our wider community are fortunate to have him here.”
These discussions, of which there will be four in total, will alternate hosts. The first discussion was facilitated by Pearson Cross, Ph.D., a UL Lafayette Political Science Professor, and he will be facilitating the next discussion as well.
This discussion was centered around “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All” by Martha S. Jones. Similarly to the previous event, it worked not as a lecture, but as an open discussion in which participants shared their opinions back and forth while Foster offered guiding questions and points to discuss throughout.
After being introduced by Woods, Foster took the floor and discussed his history as a teacher. The conversation then shifted to discuss the book at hand.
“Martha Jones has remarked that she wrote this book because last year there was a national celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, and she was concerned about a monument and commemoration that erased black women as opposed to centering them in this question,” Foster said.
Before fully diving into the conversation, Foster took a moment to ask participants to introduce themselves with their preferred names and pronouns, as well as opening the floor to any questions.
From there, the conversation took off. Similarly to the previous discussion, participants were active and respectful in their discussion.
The next discussion will be taking place on March 24 at 6:30 p.m. over Zoom. It will be streamed on the Edith Garland Dupré Library’s YouTube channel as well as the AOC’s YouTube channel. The book that will be discussed will be “One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying our Democracy” by Carol Anderson. Cross will facilitate the discussion.