Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Long-time Roanoke SCLC activist quits over “bailout”

Jeff Artis at Juneteenth Celebration

Jeff Artis outspoken civil rights activist has a “beef” with the Roanoke branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and for that matter with the NAACP too. Artis has served in various capacities with the SCLC.

Artis was President of the SCLC briefly in 2008 and up until now served on the board of directors. Both Brenda Hale, President of the NAACP and Bishop Edward Mitchell President of the SCLC do not support a “bailout” of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The “bailout” is only that portion of the Voting Rights Act that allows a jurisdiction to bypass Department of Justice  approval when relocating voting precincts. The electoral board brought the issue up claiming it would save time and expense.

Both Mitchell and Hale are “totally against it” remembering how hard they fought for African-American rights in the 60s. Perneller Chubb-Wilson President Emeritus who remembers it clearly was very disturbed by the prospect of “chipping away at the Voting Rights Act.”

They contend that it would open the door to dismantling other provisions of the act they fought so hard for.

Artis on the other hand said on his blog, “There is no racism in voting in Roanoke, Va. There hasn’t been for quite some time. If people in Roanoke, Va. don’t or won’t register to vote or vote on Election Day, they only have themselves to blame.” He has been with the SCLC for 15 years and bluntly calls the opposition of Hale and Mitchell “wrong in withholding their support [for the bailout].”

Hale along with her brother Dan Hale spoke at the August 16 city council meeting heading off any thoughts of moving precincts without first obtaining Justice Department approval. They garnered the support of council member Sherman Lea.

Three precincts will be moved due to demolition of one site, sale of a firehouse and another precinct that failed the more stringent requirements of the ADA. These precinct moves must still go through the DOJ approval process that can take up to 60 days. The November elections are just around the corner and in some cases according to city attorney Bill Hackworth elections were held before receiving DOJ approval of a precinct move – with fingers crossed.

Read more: Roanoke City Council gets read the Voting Rights Act

Posted By Valerie Garner

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