A Hot Topic: Who Can Vote Education Program Offered at Racine, Kenosha Public Libraries

RACINE, KENOSHA – “Who Can Vote,” a community-wide education program is currently underway at the Racine and Kenosha Public Libraries. The program includes presentations, discussion sessions and free copies of a best-selling historical book.

“The Who Gets to Vote program was designed to raise awareness of how you can get involved and to learn more about the importance of your vote,” said Angie Zimmermann, executive director of the Racine Public Library. “We hope this program will help raise awareness of everyone’s right and responsibility to vote and its importance to a healthy and informed democracy.”

Community members are invited to read and discuss “America’s Soul – The Battle for Our Best Angels,” a 2018 New York Times bestseller by author and historian Jon Meacham.

As described by Amazon.com, the book “helps us understand the present moment in American politics and life by revisiting critical moments in our history when hope overcame division and fear.” An HBO documentary based on the book was released in 2020.

Meacham is the author of 12 books, mostly focused on American history and biographies. He received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House”.

Barb Brattin, director of the Kenosha Public Library, explained that “The Soul of America” ​​was chosen for community-wide reading for a variety of reasons, including a local connection.

Meacham gave the commencement address at Carthage College in May 2018, the same month as the book’s release. He is a longtime friend of the President of Carthage, Dr. John Swallow.

“His (Meacham’s) writing is very accessible to everyone,” Brattin said. “It puts things into context and really offers messages of hope for the future.”

A grant from the non-profit organization, Wisconsin Humanities, was used to purchase hardcover copies of “The Soul of America” ​​for free distribution. Copies are available—while supplies last—at all four Kenosha Public Library locations, the KPL Bookmobile, and the Racine Public Library Reference Desk.

The public is invited to participate in a pair of discussion sessions on “The Soul of America”. The Kenosha talk is at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 7 at the KPL Southwest Library, 7979 38and Av.

The Root session will be virtual at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23. Register at RootLibrary.info.

Other presentations and discussions

A series of presentations and discussions are planned around the “Who can vote” program throughout this month and until April.
All sessions are free and open to the public.
  • March 1 to 31: Postcards, The Battle for Women’s Suffrage: Fighting for the Right to Vote. A display of Kenosha History Center suffrage postcards can be seen at the KPL Northside Library, 1500 27and Av.
  • Tuesday, March 8: Right in the middle of book club: “The Candidate.” Reading and discussion of a book for readers aged 10 to 14. 5 p.m., KPL Northside Library, 1500 27and Av.
  • Wednesday March 9: Who can and cannot vote. Presentation and discussion with local community leaders regarding voting and various specific populations such as formerly incarcerated people, students and seniors in special care facilities. Presented by the Racine Public Library. 6 p.m. virtual. Register on RootLibrary.info.
  • Wednesday March 9: Decoding Your Ballot: Voter Research for the Busy Citizen. Ballotpedia’s Megan Brown discusses ways voters can search for less-covered elections such as school boards, city councils, and ballot metrics. 7 p.m. Virtual. Visit the KPL website at mykpl.info to subscribe to a link.
  • Thursday March 10: Old Weird America When Vote Was a Crime: Susan B. Anthony, Victoria Woodhull and the Election of 1872. A presentation on how two women marked an election nearly 50 years before women won the right to vote. 6 p.m. KPL Northside Library, 1500 27and Avenue and virtual at mykpl.info.
  • Friday March 11: Political and historical book club. A discussion of the history of the vote, voter suppression, struggles for the vote, and the evolution of suffrage. Participants can read any voting-related book to participate in the discussion. 1 p.m. KPL South West Library, 7979 38and Av.
  • Monday March 14: Black History Book Club: Voting Rights. More than half a century after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the right to vote, disenfranchisement, and obtaining the right to vote are still hot and controversial topics. 6 p.m., KPL South West Library, 7979 38and Av.
  • Tuesday, March 22: Partisan Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression in Wisconsin. Attorney Douglas M. Poland, a partner at Stafford Rosenbaum LLP and co-chair of the firm’s election and policy law team, will discuss how partisan gerrymandering dilutes the power (and therefore suppresses the votes) of Wisconsin voters. 6:30 p.m. Virtual. Visit the KPL website at mykpl.info to subscribe to a link.
  • Thursday March 24: Visit to the Belmont-Paul National Women’s Equality Monument. Susan Philpott of the National Park Service will share the story of Alice Paul’s political acumen and the tactics of the National Woman’s Party for women’s suffrage. 6 p.m. virtual. Visit the KPL website at mykpl.info to subscribe to a link.
  • Wednesday April 13: Meet the representatives. The Racine Public Library brings together elected officials from the Racine area for public engagement and an opportunity to learn about local issues. 6:30 p.m. Virtual. Register on RootLibrary.info.

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Jessica C. Bell