Texas Social Justice Series: The Right to Vote


June 2, 2015 7:00pm - 9:00pm

The series will conclude in June with a program on perhaps the most important right afforded to American citizens—the right to vote.

The program is meant to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, when the news of emancipation finally reached slaves in Texas. Panelists will explore the historic events leading up to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark piece of legislation which aimed to enforce the voting rights enumerated in the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. Discussion also cover historic disenfranchisement of racial minorities, the impacts of the Voting Rights Act in Texas and current court decisions related to the law.


Jim Harrington was born in Lansing, Michigan, he received his law degree from the University of Detroit, where he also had earned a Master's degree in philosophy. Upon graduation from law school, Harrington worked for ten years as Director of the South Texas Project in the Rio Grande Valley, near McAllen. Much of his legal work there involved asserting the rights of farm laborers and poor people in the Valley, especially its colonias, where he handled major cases involving police brutality, discrimination, and farm worker organizing. Harrington moved to Austin in 1983 to become Legal Director of the Texas Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Inc., a position he held for seven years. In 1990, Harrington founded the Texas Civil Rights Project, a statewide community-based, non-profit civil rights foundation that promotes social, racial, and economic justice and civil liberty, through the legal system and public education, forlow income and poor persons. Harrington has also served as adjunct professor at University of Texas Law School for 27 years and continues to teach undergraduate writing courses at the university in civil liberties and history-making trials. He has received numerous awards and honors for his public service and assistance to the poor.


Dr. Dwight Watson is Associate Professor of History at Texas State University and works as the Special Assistant to the Provost and is Founder of the Neighborhood Mentoring Program for Minority Students. His specializations include African American History and the Civil Rights Movement, and he is specifically interested in how race and law impact United States History. Dr. Watson earned his M.A. from Texas Southern University and his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. He has previously worked as a correctional counselor, a prison grievance officer, a county probation officer, and state parole officer. Black Bayou: African-American Life and Civil Rights in Houston and Race and the Houston Police Department: A Change Did Come are among his scholarly publications. He is currently working on a book about the 1917 Camp Logan riot in Houston.

Dr. Henry Flores is the Distinguished University Research Professor of Political Science and International Relations in the Institute for Public Administration, Politics and Public Policy at St. Mary's University. Since 1986, Dr. Flores has served as an expert witness in more than 50 federal voting and civil rights lawsuits. Dr. Flores has been active with many community-based organizations such as COPS, Metro Alliance in San Antonio, LULAC, NAACP, MALDEF, the Southwest Voting Registration Project, and the Esperanza Environmental Justice Project. He has authored several books, including Latinos and the Voting Rights Act: The Search for Racial Purpose,  which discusses the 2011 Texas redistricting process and the law suit surrounding the Voter Identification and Verification Law. Dr. Flores has received numerous honors for his contributions to Latino civil rights issues. A native San Antonian, Dr. Flores graduated from Central Catholic in 1962, from St. Mary's University with a bachelor's degree in 1974. He received his master's degree (1975) and doctorate (1981) from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in political science. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Flores served as a Captain of Field Artillery with the First Cavalry Division in the Republic of Vietnam from 1969 through 1971.

Teachers to receive CPE credit, email education@thestoryoftexas.com

This program is presented in partnership with the Social Justice Institute at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Presented in Partnership with
Social Justice Institute TX Civil Rights Project

The Texas Social Justice Series is sponsored in part by funding from Humanities Texas.

Humanities Texas