This is the second in an occasional series on issues of race, identity and politics ahead of Election Day, including a look at the optics of politics, a white Southern Democrat fighting for survival and a civil rights icon registering voters.
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - A tall, caramel-complexioned man marched across the steps of the U.S. Capitol to be sworn into office as a jubilant crowd watched history being made.
The man was an African-American of mixed-race heritage, an eloquent speaker whose election was hailed as a reminder of how far America had come.
But the man who placed his hand on the Bible that winter day in Washington wasn't Barack Obama. He was Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate.
His election and that of many other African-Americans to public office triggered a white backlash that helped destroy Reconstruction, America’s first attempt to build an interracial democracy in the wake of the Civil War. FULL POST
This is the first in an occasional series on issues of race, identity and politics ahead of Election Day, including a look at a white Southern Democrat fighting for survival, a civil rights icon registering voters and how parallels to the past haunt the age of Obama.
By Todd Leopold, CNN
(CNN) – The images – on TV, YouTube, our social networks – have become so familiar that we take them for granted.
We're treated to scenes of Barack Obama with a group of middle Americans at a cozy restaurant table, then with an African-American woman in an office. Or we see clips from a rally, the president surrounded by faces of all ages and hues.
It's much the same with Mitt Romney: A quartet of white male engineers pore over plans, then an African-American woman talks with a colleague. We see shots of factory workers, then a burst of flags as the candidate heads for the stage. Or we get farms, children and a colorful audience at a speech.
More than 60 years into the Television Age, campaign messages have become a formula: Uplifting ads are full of inspirational music, flapping flags and stolid candidate portrayals; negative ones feature ominous melodies, dramatic black-and-white images and gloomy narrators. FULL POST
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Two things you should know about South Asians: They are one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States and they win spelling bees.
Put the two together in an election year and what you get is a series of public service videos aimed at drawing South Asians to the polls. And they do it by poking fun at their own spelling prowess - nine of the last 13 Scripps National Spelling Bee winners have been South Asian.
The "Bee a Winner" videos feature six South Asian actors - including Parvesh Cheena of "Outsourced" and Sonal Shal of "Scrubs" - in a mock “14th Annual Desi Spelling Bee.” Each word they have to spell tackles an issue of civic engagement like "undecided" or "caucus."
"We came up with the idea of the spelling bee because it speaks to the aspect of the model South Asian," producer Sohini Sengupta said.
She said getting out the vote was the first step to political empowerment for South Asians.
Directed by indie filmmaker Tanuj Chopra, the videos were funded by 18 Million Rising, a social media campaign encouraging Asian-Americans to get more politically involved.
The spelling bee videos were posted on actress Kosha Patel's YouTube channel.
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - The presidential candidates discussed immigration at the Univision forum a month ago, but Tuesday night’s debate gave the hot button issues a major prime-time stage, and it wasn't pretty.
In one of the most tweeted moments, the candidates addressed audience member Lorraine Osorio's question: "Mr. Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards (who) are currently living here as productive members of society?"
The candidates had trouble with Osorio's name, and people went wild on social media.
Lynda (@Lyngay) October 17, 2012
“This is a nation of immigrants," GOP nominee Mitt Romney said. "We welcome people coming to this country as immigrants. My dad was born in Mexico of American parents. Ann's dad was born in Wales and is a first-generation American. We welcome legal immigrants into this country.”
Editor's Note: CNN senior correspondent Joe Johns will debut a one-hour documentary, Voters in America: Who Counts, which focuses on new voting laws and how they may affect the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, airing on CNN/U.S. on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. ET and PT.
By Halimah Abdullah, CNN
Washington (CNN) - For LaVon Bracy, the pain of racial discrimination, of fighting for her rights as a U.S. citizen, still aches every time she thinks about Florida's new voter identification law.
"When I think I had ancestors that died for this right. I owe it to them ... to do what I'm doing," said Bracy, who years ago helped desegregate her Florida high school and today is fighting to change voting restrictions she feels are designed to keep people like her away from the polls.
Parts of the Florida law - which required a photo ID to vote, restricted voter registration techniques and limited early voting - have been curtailed by federal courts.
Still, it is one of more than two dozen laws across the country approved in at least 15 states since 2011 to deal with concerns around voter fraud and election irregularities. But courts and the Justice Department have reversed or weakened several of those regulations in a flurry of recent litigation.
Anita MonCrief, however, could not disagree more strongly with Bracy.
MonCrief, who is also African American, told women gathered at the Woman's Up Pavilion at the Republican National Convention in August that she resents when other blacks suggest that efforts to crack down on voter fraud are racially motivated.
"This is not the 60's and blacks are not your victims," MonCrief tweeted during the week of the convention. "Do you know any blacks that have been disenfranchised by having poll watchers in place? Neither do I."
CNN senior correspondent Joe Johns will explore the impact of tough new voter laws in an hour-long documentary set to air on Sunday. It focuses on new legislative voting changes in Florida and how those changes may affect the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.FULL STORY
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
(CNN) - The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear oral arguments in an important affirmative-action case - whether the University of Texas' race-conscious admissions policy violates the rights of some white applicants.
The justices will decide whether and when skin color and ethnicity can be used to create a diverse college campus. CNN gathered comments from three current or former students with a direct interest in the case. Their comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Abigail Fisher, plaintiff in the Supreme Court appeal
Fisher was denied admission to the state's flagship university and filed a lawsuit challenging the selection process. She graduated this year from Louisiana State University, and issued a statement of her views, through her legal team.
FISHER: "I dreamt of going to UT (the University of Texas) ever since the second grade. My dad went there, my sister went there, and tons of friends and family. And it was a tradition I wanted to continue.
"There were people in my (high school) class with lower grades who weren't in all the activities I was in, who were being accepted into UT. And the only difference between us was the color of our skin. I took a ton of AP (advanced placement) classes, I studied hard and did my homework, and I made the honor roll. I was in extracurricular activities - I played the cello, I was in math club, and I volunteered. I put in the work I thought was necessary to get into UT.
"I was taught from the time I was a little girl that any kind of discrimination was wrong. And for an institution of higher learning to act this way makes no sense to me. What kind of example does this set for others? A good start to stopping discrimination would be getting rid of the boxes on applications - male, female, race, whatever. Those don't tell admissions people what type of student you are, or how involved you are. All they do is put you into a box, a theoretical box.FULL STORY
Editor’s note: In America follows the fight to win an essential voting bloc in Nevada, a battleground state with one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the nation. Soledad O’Brien reports “Latino in America: Courting Their Vote” at 8 p.m. ET Sunday.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Marlene Monteolivo was a Democrat for many years, then a Republican. Now she's registered as a nonpartisan voter in Nevada who wants to support a candidate who will make the economy better.
The Colombia native, who works for a Las Vegas social services agency, says she's leaning toward GOP challenger Mitt Romney. She likes his business sensibilities.
Not surprisingly, Latinos nationwide put the economy as their top priority in a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday.
But there's a hiccup. And it's a big one called immigration.
It's the 200-pound anchor on the Republican message, say experts in Nevada politics.
Monteolivo doesn't like that Republicans blocked passage of the Dream Act, which would have created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. She bristled at Romney's comment that 47% of Americans feel entitled to government aid. She took it to mean that Latinos, many of whom are not well off, are considered freeloaders.
Come November, Monteolivo says, her option might be to "vote for none of the above."
Romney and President Barack Obama are vying for the attention of 268,000 eligible Latino voters in Nevada, a critical bloc in a battleground state that is still reeling from the Great Recession. FULL POST
By Kevin Liptak, CNN
(CNN) – More Latinos will be eligible to vote in November's election than at any other time in American history, but getting them to the polls will provide campaigns a challenge, according to a report released Monday.
The Pew Hispanic Center report indicated 23.7 million Latinos are eligible to vote November 6, meaning they are U.S. citizens over the age of 18. That's an increase of 22% since 2008, when there were 19.5 million Latinos in America who met the country's voting requirements.
While both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have aggressively courted Latino voters, the turnout rate for the group in 2008 – 50% - was lower than that of black voters (65%) and white voters (66%).
And the decrease in voter registration between the 2008 election and the 2010 for Latinos was sharp – 600,000 fewer Latinos registered to vote in the midterm elections than they did for the presidential contest two years earlier.
The Pew report suggests two factors that could have led to the decrease over two years: reduced enthusiasm for a non-presidential election, and an economic downturn that has displaced many Latinos (and subsequently caused their voter registration to lapse).
Whether or not the downward trend from 2010 continues this year remains to be seen, since national data on voter registration isn't available until after the election.
However, four individual states that have published information on voter sign-ups show an increase in Latino registration since 2008. In Florida, a key battleground with 29 electoral votes at stake, 1.6 million Latinos had registered to vote by the middle of July, an increase over the 1.4 million Latinos who registered to vote in the Sunshine State in 2008.
North Carolina, another battleground, also reports an increase in Latino registered voters since 2008 – 102,000, compared to 68,000 who registered four years ago.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Before 2000, you had to pick one: White, black, Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native or some other race. But now you can tick multiple boxes on the U.S. Census Bureau's race category.
The 2010 census provided the first glimpse of trends in multirace reporting since it was the second time such an option was available. And what it shows is that people who say they are a mix of races grew by a larger percentage than people who reported a single race, according to the data released Thursday.
People who reported a background of mixed race grew by 32% to 9 million between 2000 and 2010. In comparison, single-race population increased 9.2%.
In all, the U.S. population increased by 9.7% since 2000. Many multiple-race groups increased by 50% or more.
But that does not necessarily mean there are many more children of interracial couples. FULL POST