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White Rage Reader’s Guide

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SISTER DISTRICT ACTION NETWORK
WHITE RAGE: THE UNSPOKEN TRUTH OF OUR RACIAL DIVIDE
BOOK CLUB READER’S GUIDE
Prepared by Gaby Goldstein, SDAN Director of Research
UPDATED: 4/10/19
Download the PDF: Sister District Book Club – White Rage Reader’s Guide

Hello Friends!

Sister District Action Network (‘Sister District’, more info at the end of this document) hosts a quarterly book club. If you haven’t joined, please sign up here to vote on future books and keep in the loop with regard to book club events and information!

Our current book selection is White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson.  This reader’s guide provides: A) discussion questions;  B) facilitator’s guide for folks who will be leading book discussions in person (highly recommended!); C) additional materials.

We will be holding a Fireside Chat with author Carol Anderson on Monday, April 15th at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET.  You can watch live or later at this link.

A.         Main Themes/Discussion Questions

  1. Broad Narratives About Rage
  • What is Anderson’s argument about white rage and black[1] rage?
  • What triggers white rage?
  • Anderson argues that black rage is more visible than white rage. Why might this be so? Do you agree?
  1. Broad Narratives about State Legislatures & Other Venues of Power
  • The narrative about “states rights” has a long history. What are some examples of ‘states rights’ being used as a tool of oppression in Anderson’s account of American history?
  • Throughout American history, state legislatures have been the venue of power where many rights have been established or eviscerated. During Reconstruction, post-Reconstruction, the Great Migration, Civil Rights Movement, post-Civil Rights Movement, and after Obama’s election, how have Southern state legislatures used state law to institutionalize racism?
  • What about the common narrative of “the North” as a bastion of equality? Did Northern state legislatures use state law as a tool for white supremacy too? What are some examples?
  • What role did the Presidency play during key moments in American history, as it pertains to equality and voting rights? In particular, think about Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and Trump.  Does the role of the President set a broad moral tone for the nation?
  • What role did the Supreme Court play during key moments in Anderson’s narrative? What role does it play now, as we (re-)enter an era of ‘states rights’?

[1] Note: I understand that some feel strongly that ‘black’ should be capitalized. We use the lower case in this guide, as it appears in White Rage, which follows the NYT and other journalistic style guides.

  1. Reconstructing Reconstruction
  1. Was Lincoln clear about the purpose of the Civil War? Did that lack of clarity set a narrative that skirted the moral issues of slavery and equality for black people?
  2. What was Lincoln’s resettlement plan for formerly enslaved folks post-Civil War?
  3. Has Lincoln been fairly lionized as a historical figure? Has the way we learn and talk about Lincoln hindered different or more inclusive narratives about the Civil War and Reconstruction?
  4. Can we see the origins of the prison-industrial complex in how Southern states treated newly emancipated black people after the Civil War?
  5. What are some examples of ways that Presidents, the Supreme Court, and local courts were allies to the Southern states post-Civil War?
  1. The Great Migration 
  1. What are some features of the post-Civil War peonage system in the South?
  2. Were African Americans safe in the South, at the dawn of the 20th century?
  3. What was the initial impetus for the Great Migration?
  4. How did African Americans learn about opportunities in the North?
  5. What visible and invisible tactics did white Southerners use to staunch the exodus to the North?
  6. What were things like for African Americans when they arrived in the North?
  1. Burning Brown to the Ground.
  1. What was the NAACP’s role in fighting for equality in education for black people in the South?
  2. What was Plessy’s holding, and how did Brown change the law of the land?
  3. What were some of the tactics that Southern state legislatures and cities used to stall and delay implementation of Brown?
  4. Are some of these tactics still in play today? Can we trace the origins of the charter school and school voucher movements to the expressly racist plans of Southern states in the mid-20th century?
  1. Rolling Back Civil Rights
  1. How did Nixon minimize the impact of, and roll back the successes of, the Civil Rights Movement? What rhetorical and administrative tools did he use?
  2. What are some examples of how Reagan slashed social safety net programs that disproportionately affected African Americans?
  3. Describe how Reagan helped manufacture the “drug crisis.” Were you surprised by this account? Did it match what you remember about this period of history?
  4. What were some features of Reagan’s subsequent “war on drugs” – did it contribute to a mass incarceration crisis?
  5. How did the Supreme Court during the 70s and 80s roll back civil rights, and expand the carceral state? Did these decisions have a disproportionate impact upon communities of color?
  1. Unelecting a Black President
  1. With which demographics of the population did Obama do well at the ballot box? With which segments of the population did he fare poorly?
  2. What was the GOP’s response to Obama’s success and the trend in voting demographics?
  3. What are examples of tactics GOP-led state legislatures used to make it harder to vote post-Obama’s election?  Were these successful? How do you know?
  1. What Happens Next
  1. Anderson leaves us on an optimistic note. Why is she optimistic? Do you agree?
  2. Have you learned anything surprising from White Rage? Has it challenged your prior knowledge of key events, politicians, and narratives?
  3. What will you do with the new information you have?

B.         Facilitator’s Guide.

Prologue

  • After key police murders including Diallo in NY and Brown in MO, Anderson noticed a pattern: media and social commentators framed the discussion around black rage — focusing on African Americans’ behaviors as manifestations of rage, and whether that rage was justified or not (2).
  • This focus on black rage missed the point. The issue, really, is white rage triggered by black advancement.
  • For decades, indeed centuries, public policy has systematically undercut democracy and efforts at racial equality. Education, policing, housing, voting, and employment laws and rules have racial inequality baked in, either de jure or de facto.  
  • The media was focused on the flames (African Americans’ anger at systemic racism), rather than focusing on the logs and kindling (institutionalized white supremacy).
  • White rage is not about visible violence – it works subtly through the courts, the legislatures, and government bureaucracies (3).
  • The trigger for white rage is black advancement – not mere presence of black people, but “blackness with ambition…with demands for full and equal citizenship.” (3)
  • The narratives of black rage focus on disproven tropes – black fathers abandoning their children; black children who hate school; drug use and ‘black on black crime’.
  • Here’s the truth:
    • Black resilience is a deep thread that weaves its way through the history of America, hidden by mainstream narratives infused with white supremacy.
    • Enslaved Africans worked hard for their freedom. After the Civil War, they built schools, worked the land to build economic independence, and tried reunify their families. That drive was met with Black Codes, the abandonment of Reconstruction, troops throwing them off their promised 40 acres, and Supreme Court decisions eviscerating the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments (4).
    • Opposition to black advancement has been rampant in the South and the North too. Brown v. Board was no silver bullet, and structures were put in place to keep African Americans from advancing.  
    • There was huge backlash to the Civil Rights Movement and the Voting Rights Act. After Obama, huge backlash at the state legislative level as well.
    • The unspoken truth of our racial divide is white rage, not black rage.

Reconstructing Reconstruction

  • Chattel slavery was what James Madison called America’s “original sin.”
  • After the Civil War: Emancipation Proclamation, three constitutional amendments, and the Freedmans Bureau (with mandate to provide land and education) (7).
  • The country was at a crossroads between its slaveholding past and the possibility of an inclusive democracy. But would political leaders have the “clarity, humanity, and resolve” to see this transformation through?
  • Initially, it appeared so, with the passage of 13th Amendment.
  • But ultimately, no. For all “the saintedness of his legacy as the Great Emancipator,” Lincoln did not have the clarity or will to do the hard work of fixing racial injustice.
  • Incredibly, Lincoln had resettlement plans for black people after the Civil War: to send millions of African Americans to Chiriqui, a “resource-poor area” in Panama (9).
  • Lincoln shrouded the purposes of the war under the cloak of “preserving the Union” but the truth was that the Civil War was entirely about the South’s desire to preserve slavery. Without acknowledging that, Lincoln set the narrative up to be unclear regarding the moral bankruptcy of slavery.
  • 10% (180k soldiers) of the Union Army were black (11).
  • The narrative about the North as a bastion of equality is wrong too. “Every state admitted to the union since 1819, starting with Maine, embedded in their constitutions discrimination against blacks, especially the denial of the right to vote” (12).
  • Lincoln left suffrage for black people out of his vision for Reconstruction (13). Left out of the narrative about Lincoln is his long history of racial animus in his earlier political career: I am not…in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.” (14)
  • Things didn’t get any clearer with his successor, Andrew Johnson, whose rage against Southern slaveholders was rooted in class envy, not racial justice (14). Johnson pardoned scores of Confederates and “set about stitching the rebel South back into the fabric of the nation” (14).
  • The Freedman’s Bureau (1865) was meant to be a federal agency to lease abandoned Southern land to the newly emancipated. But it was met with great opposition (16).
  • Johnson’s rash of post-Civil War pardons meant that Confederate leaders, now pardoned, regained control of their state legislatures, mayorships, governorships, police departments. This meant that the Confederacy never died and Reconstruction efforts were perhaps doomed in the South because of a lack of cooperation (17).
    • Southern states set up Black Codes. This was slavery under another name:
      • Black people were forced to sign annual labor contracts with plantation, mill, or mine owners.
      • If they refused to work, they would be charged with vagrancy and put on the auction block, with their labor sold to the highest bidder.
      • They were forbidden to switch jobs or look for better work. They were prohibited from employment besides laborer or domestic.
      • Black children sold before the war, who hadn’t been yet reunited with family were “apprenticed” off, with former masters having first right to their labor.
      • Penalty for defiance or even a rude gesture was whipping (19).
    • Mississippi led the way with Black Codes; 9 other states followed.
  • The White House was an ally to the South.
    • Lincoln’s lack of moral clarity was followed by Johnson, who was an outright ally of the South. Ulysses S. Grant too (20).
    • Johnson felt that rights for black people should be left to the states, and that the laws of supply and demand would ensure that black ppl got a fair wage at work (25). He also felt that the justice system in the South would be fair to black ppl (27).
    • Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 and the Freedman’s Bureau bill, which he complained were efforts “to protect niggers.” (30) Congress overrode both vetoes, but it was clear to everyone where the president stood. When 50 black people were killed during a meeting to discuss voting in New Orleans, one of the killers proclaimed, “Johnson is with us!” (30).
  • The Supreme Court was an ally to the South.  
    • Dred Scott – black people have “no rights which the white man is bound to respect” (18). Happersett  (1874) – the right to vote was not to be federally protected. Cruikshank (1876) – the Enforcement Act violated states rights. Civil Rights Cases (1883) – banning discrimination in public accommodations was unconstitutional. Plessy (1896) – separate but equal treatment is ok. “If one race be inferior to the other socially, the constitution of the US cannot put them on the same plane.” (35) Williams v MS (1898) – poll taxes are ok.
    • Supreme Court had systematically dismantled the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments and rendered the Enforcement and Force acts DOA (37).
  • Local courts in the South did not allow black people to access justice. Instead, the post-war ‘criminal justice system’ (courts and jails) expanded and “reconfigured to capitalize on the economic potential of the recently emancipated and newly imprisoned. In effect, Southern courts transferred full control of black people from the plantation owner to a carceral state.”  “States either built or expanded the jurisdiction of their courts to handle the surge of cases.” (28)

Derailing the Great Migration

  • Initial impetus for the Great Migration was the North’s need for industrial labor while many whites were at WWI and European immigration had slowed to near standstill (42).
  • During WWI, the country was fighting for democracy abroad – but plenty of people at home weren’t safe and were excluded from our democracy. Especially Southern black ppl.
    • Among a thousand other systems of oppression in the South: the peonage system set up after the Civil War:
      • ‘employers’ routinely went to the local jail, paid the fine of a black person, and then had them work off the debt (39).
      • Sharecropping: fewer than 20% of sharecroppers ever made a profit. They were required to purchase all their supplies and food from the landowner, regardless of price or interest rates. They racked up debts beyond what they ‘earned’ on the land, and would nearly always start the next year in the hole (44).
    • Black people were physically unsafe in the decades after the Civil War. They were brutally murdered, tortured, taunted, and mistreated. There were no consequences for whites and no system of justice for black people.
    • Black people had no access to education. In a MS county, 350 black kids had access to 3 teachers; the academic term was often just a few weeks long per year (because kids had to work the cotton fields most of the year) (45).
  • So, in Isabel Wilkerson’s title, they sought ‘the warmth of other suns.’ More than 1.5 million moved North (41); or about 10% of the black population of the South (46).
  • How they went North:
    • Anti-South black newspaper Chicago Defender highlighted jobs in the North; was distributed by a system of black railroad porters (48). A lot of travel North happened by train.
    • Southern whites response: visible and less visible tactics to keep black ppl in the South:
    • Black people were the backbone of labor and the economy in the South. While African Americans saw the exodus as a chance for a better life, whites saw “black advancement and independence as a threat to their culture and… economy.” (46)
    • Mayors, governors, state legislators, business leaders, police chiefs concocted ways to slow the exodus.
      • “Anti-enticement statutes” – leveled insane fees, requirements (e.g. recruiting license required recommendation by 10 ministers, 10 manufacturers, and 25 businessmen), and chain-gang prison sentences to anyone “luring” black people away from their Southern employers (47).
      • Made Chicago Defender and other anti-South literature illegal (50).
      • White power went after the railroad system that physically brought black people North – stopping the trains for days, and attempting to blackmail the railroad companies into forbidding black people to ride (51).
  • The North wasn’t paradise. But it was better than staying. In the North:
    • Between 1917-20s, ‘race riots’ in St. Louis, Chicago, DC. These were “essentially lynchings on a grander scale” (54).
    • White anxiety about black competition for jobs was coupled with anxiety about affordable housing (55).  By mid-20s there were 10x as many black people in Detroit as had been in 1915 (56).
    • Northern cities and states responded with redlining, restrictive covenants, and a justice system that could be just as unresponsive as in the South.

Burning Brown to the Ground

  •  NAACP launched court battles to destroy Jim Crow and overturn Plessy. The tactic was to go after education — it was clear that Southern states were not providing “separate but equal” educational opportunities, and that was NAACP’s initial hook (67).
    • First suits were to require equal opportunity for graduate school – requiring that Southern universities finance, create and maintain black law schools and doctoral programs of the same caliber as white programs. They could not, and the Supreme Court forced them to admit black people (1938) (67).
    • Next on the proverbial docket was elementary/high school. Conditions for black education in the South was horrendous.
      • In the mid-30s Atlanta: 82 black students for every teacher, 35 white students per teacher. Throughout the South, black schools were regularly tar paper shacks without insulation, electricity, or plumbing. (69)
  • Between 1935-1950, NAACP demonstrated repeatedly that Southern governments were incapable of meeting Plessy’s Jim Crow standard of ‘separate but equal’ (71).
    • A number of cases were bundled into Brown v Board. Thurgood Marshall argued the case before the Supreme Court.
      • The states dangled school-equalization packages before the NAACP “as a bribe to drop the lawsuits” and other tactics.
      • Some states (e.g. GA, MS, SC) proposed constitutional amendments authorizing the state legislature to scrap the public school system and “channel state funds into tuition grants for [white] students attending private schools” (73).
      • Other state legislative proposals: selling public school property to private individuals, ‘pupil placement laws’ (to advantage the highest performers – given circumstances, almost all white) (74).
  • As in other pivotal moments throughout history, the President was openly sympathetic to the South, creating the opportunity for continued narrative and moral confusion. Eisenhower, to Chief Justice Earl Warren: Southerners don’t want to see “their sweet little girls… required to sit in school alongside big overgrown Negroes.” (72; 92-93).
  • 1954: Supreme Court ruled in Brown that Jim Crow schools violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment (74).
  • But it would still be decades before Brown affected most of the South.
  • Backlash to Brown:
    • In the South, states immediately made it harder for African Americans to vote. By 1944, only 5% of age-eligible African Americans were registered to vote in the old Confederacy (76). Even as late as 1960, more than 98% of MS’s black adults were not registered (77).
    • Poll taxes, literacy tests, ‘understanding clauses’, re-registration requirements, ‘good character clauses’ all kept them from the ballot.
    • Whites also used legislative reapportionment (redistricting) to keep black voting power minimized -by gerrymandering districts + ‘at large’ elections (78).
    • Southern states also brought endless lawsuits arguing ‘interposition’ – that the state could put itself between federal law and US citizens to stop enforcement of laws with which the state disagreed. They also passed laws they knew were illegal, just to slow down the process for years (79, 80).
    • White citizens formed groups, e.g. White Citizens’ Councils, to resist 79).
    • VA actually did close the public schools, pouring tax dollars into private schools for white children, while black children had no schools at all. At one point, nearly 20% of the state’s public schools had closed in response to Brown (83).
    • Southern state legislatures (e.g. VA, TX) banned NAACP from operating – to stop them from bringing cases to enforce Brown (87). For eight years, at the peak of the Civil Rights Movement, NAACP was hampered in the South. Not until 1964 could NAACP resume operations in AL (88).

Rolling Back Civil Rights

  • The Civil Rights Movement was “a series of hard-fought, locally organized campaigns, supported at times by national organizations” including King’s SCLC (98).
  • Civil Rights Act in ‘64 and Voting Rights Act passed in ‘65 – in response to horrific violence in the South (99).
  • Afterwards, just as with Reconstruction, the Great Migration, and Brown, black “advances set the gears of white opposition in motion (99).
  • Again the President and federal government played an important role in setting the tone and key policies during/after the Civil Rights Movement.
    • Key maneuvers: 1) colorblind” policies, framing rights as neutral (kind of the equivalent of ‘all lives matter’); 2) redefining (narrowing definition of) racism as just those most egregious efforts of the KKK and jackbooted sheriffs, to soothe the conscience of other racist whites who were “positively outraged” by the KKK but also resented black advancement (100).
  • Working class whites became anxious about black advancement, w/ 85% of whites in 1966 believing that “the pace of civil rights progress was too fast.” The assumption was that black gains could only come at the expense of whites (102).
  • The 1960s non-violence gave way to “an ethos of self-defense, best articulated by the Black Panther Party.” This ethos competed with the SCLC and NAACP’s goal of integration (103).
  • Rioting in Newark, Detroit, LA and Cleveland intensified white backlash (103).
  • Nixon tapped into this general resentment w his “Southern Strategy” – he defined and maligned Democrats as “the party of African Americans”, using a “law and order” framework fraught w/ dog-whistles (104)
    • The VRA’s results had been profound – prior to passage, only 6.7% of MS black adults were registered; 3 years later, w/ federal oversight and Section 5 preclearance, it soared to 59.4% (108).
    • But Nixon’s strategy also included curtailing most enforcement of civil rights laws through staffing his agencies with like-minded attorneys/bureaucrats (105).
    • Nixon’s 4 Supreme Court nominees also worked hard to eviscerate civil rights, especially around education (110).
  • Reagan saw the rollback of many gains made through the Civil Rights Movement.
    • 1970s were the height of black advancement, in Anderson’s account. Then, between 1981 and 1988, “conditions regressed to levels..of the early 1960s” (118).
      • From 60’s-70s, black unemployment rate declined, and the gap between black and white unemployment narrowed.
      • When Reagan’s policies had taken effect, black unemployment increased; unemployment gap widened to “unprecedented levels” (121).
      • Median black family income was higher in 70s than 80s, and spending power of black people decreased while that of whites rose in the 80s (123).
  • He ordered a “scorched-earth policy through the Great Society from education, to housing, to employment” (119)
  • Despite his professed desire for “color-blind” society, his budget proposals targeted safety net programs where black people were overrepresented (119):
    • Student aid cuts affected black college enrollment – plummeted from 34% to 26% (120).
    • Government layoffs affected black employment – black people are disproportionately employed by the government; 50%+ of growth in black employment between 1960-1976 was in the public sector (122).
    • EEOC “on ice” affected black employment – less recourse for discrimination (122).
  • Drug Crisis / War on Drugs. Reagan’s manufactured drug crisis, and “war on drugs” both disproportionately hurt the black community.
    • Reagan was obsessed with eliminating the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, because they were Marxists and had deposed a US-backed dictator.
    • The Contras wanted to take Nicaragua back from the Sandinistas.
    • Congress wouldn’t let Reagan give the Contras more money.
  • So Reagan + administration allowed the Contras to traffic cocaine into California to raise money to overthrow the Sandinistas (125).
    • Contra druglords teamed up with Rick Ross who used the Crips and Bloods gangs in LA to introduce crack cocaine to America.
    • This self-created drug crisis was directly backed by the Reagan White House (126-127).
    • The White House cut deals with Panamanian president Noriega to run guns to the Contras and drugs to the US.
    • The CIA worked directly “to transport 1,5000 kilos of Bolivian paste” into the US, funneled all the profits out of the US to arms dealers to fund the Contras, and shut down drug enforcement efforts (127-129).
  • Then, once there was a crack epidemic (“thoroughly associated with African Americans”), rather than take a public health approach, Reagan threw everyone into mass incarceration (130).
    • Reagan demonized + criminalized black ppl for the crack epidemic (which he had helped manufacture), providing federal resources to make “incarceration, rather than education, normative” (130).
    • The media fanned the flames, making crack synonymous with the black community and creating fear of a black “plague” (131).
    • This epidemic affected the black community deeply – addiction, incarceration, fetal death rates, low birth weight babies, children in foster care (132).
    • 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act – mandatory sentencing — including 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine (132)This provision has had a profound effect on longer and harsher sentences for African Americans than whites.’
  • In the 80’s, the Supreme Court played a critical role in legalizing racial discrimination. Among other decisions:
    • Approved racial profiling; upheld harsh (and racially differential) mandatory drug sentencing; approved striking black ppl from juries; allowed police to use “their discretion instead of probable cause” to search motorists (133).
  • “Thus, after the Civil Rights Movement, when blacks made incredible strides in education, voting, and employment, those gains were a threat to the status quo of inequality.” (137) Effects of these combined forces have been profound. Black people, who are 13% of the US population, are 45% of those incarcerated (136).

How to Unelect a Black President

  • Obama did well in ‘08 with every demographic except for elderly white and evangelical Christians. 15 million new voters overall.  
  • Surge in voters came from across the racial and ethnic ranks – African Americans, Latinos, Asians – only 8% of which identified as Republican (139). The same number of whites voted in ‘08 as voted in ‘04 — but 2 million more African Americans, 2 million more Latinos, and 600k more Asians voted in ‘08 compared to ‘04.
  • The Republicans had only one way to save their future — MAKE IT HARDER TO VOTE.
    • They did this through narrative device of focusing on ‘voter fraud’ as the political cover to make it harder to vote (140).
    • Then Republican-controlled state legislatures passed state law after state law — often drafted by ALEC — requiring voters have specific IDs (141).
      • Brennan Center estimated as many as 12% of eligible voters nationwide may not have IDs meeting these laws requirements — even higher for students, seniors, and people of color (144).
      • For instance, in GA – you had to have proof of citizenship (birth certificate or passport, impossible for those born at home, etc), social security number (often requiring a W2, impossible for people without a job), and 2 pieces of proof of residence (difficult for people who live in multi-generational homes and with roommates who split the bills) (145).
    • Also, Republican governors and secretaries of state set about closing DMVs in Democratic areas, so even trying to get an ID was nearly impossible (146); curtailing early voting; and purging voter rolls for specious reasons (146-147).
  • The Supreme Court also then gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 — holding in Shelby that the VRA’s main provisions were obsolete (149-151).
    • Immediately after the decision, AZ, AK, FL, IA, KS, MS, NC, TX and VA all passed voter suppression laws, and by 2014, another 13 states had done so too (151).
  • The result: 2014 midterm elections had the lowest voter turnout since 1942. Many who had been mobilized and energized in ‘08 were now demoralized and disenfranchised (155).

Afterward: After the Election – Imagining

  • Clinton won the popular vote by millions, but Trump won because of less than 80,000 votes in specific, strategic states (161).
  • This was due, in part, to voter suppression by Republican-led state legislatures, emboldened by a post-Shelby world where the VRA has few teeth.
    • In Ohio, the GOP instituted literacy tests, purged voter registration lists, and closed polling places in Dem areas (163).
    • In Florida, felon disenfranchisement laws disproportionately affected the black community – 23% of all age-eligible African Americans were disenfranchised. Five times as many registered Dems as Republicans were disenfranchised (165).
    • In Wisconsin – 300,000 residents lacked the govt issued photo IDs now required by the GOP state legislature. 60,000 fewer people cast ballots in ‘16 than ‘12, with Milwaukee accounting for 68% of that attrition. Trump won WI by 27,000 votes (165).
    • In North Carolina, GOP laws cut early voting, eliminated same-day registration, imposed ID requirements – affecting 1.2 million citizens. In addition, polling places were slashed and voter rolls were purged (166). The results worked: the GOP bragged that black early voting went down 9% from ‘12 (166).
  • The good news is that the ‘16 election spurred millions of Americans to begin “advocating, organizing, arguing, and fighting for a nation that would be more inclusive, humane, and rights based” (174). Including Sister District!

C.        Additional Materials (huge thanks to Brooke White for compiling these!)


Sister District Action Network (SDAN) is a 501(c)(4) organization that primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on civic engagement issues. Specifically, SDAN aims to:

  • Educate voters on the importance of state and local elections;
  • Train new leaders interested in becoming community activists;
  • Conduct research in partnership with nonprofit and academic partners to test new methods to increase civic engagement and voter participation;
  • Disseminate best practices for voter engagement and civic participation.

SDAN is affiliated with the Sister District Project, but it is a separate legal entity.