I'm delighted to report that Abigail Thernstrom will be guest-blogging this week about her new book, Voting Rights — and Wrongs: The Elusive Quest for Racially Fair Elections. Dr. Thernstrom is the vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She and her husband, Stephan Thernstrom, were the recipients of the 2007 Bradley Foundation prize for “Outstanding Intellectual Achievement.” From 1993 to 2009, she was a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and for eleven years served on the Massachusetts Board of Education. She is also a member of the board of advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Dr. Thernstrom's 1987 book on the Voting Rights Act won four awards, including the American Bar Association’s Certificate of Merit. With her husband, she also co-authored America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible (1997) and No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning (2003). Here's a brief blurb about her new book:
The passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act marked the death knell of the Jim Crow South; American apartheid could not survive black ballots. But ensuring black electoral equality was more difficult than originally envisioned. For good and ill, the statute became the means by which blacks and Hispanics acquired the right to safe legislative seats. Race-conscious districting to protect minority candidates from white competition both integrated and segregated American politics. By now, however, those safe minority constituencies, in marginalizing black representatives, have become a brake on further racial progress, she argues.