View Startling Stories of Voter Suppression

Screen shot from "Bettye and Debra".
Screen shot from "Bettye and Debra".

(The Root) — With Election Day approaching, now would be an opportune time to tune in to Stanley Nelson's newly released series of short films on voter suppression. The documentary filmmaker, who produced Freedom Riders and The Murder of Emmett Till, sat down with various individuals to get their personal voting stories, what obstacles they were faced with and how they were determined to overcome those obstacles in order to cast their ballot this year.


One of the films, simply titled Bettye and Debra, zeroes in on a mother and daughter's experience with voter suppression in Wisconsin. Debra Crawford's mother, Bettye Jones, has voted in every major election since the '50s. However, this year presented a problem. There was a new voting-ID requirement in their state, and Bettye did not have a birth certificate. She was born in the segregated South and was never given one.

"We were frustrated because we knew that it was intentional efforts on the part of people who have money and means to do whatever they could do to suppress this vote," Debra said.

Bettye is the lead plaintiff in an Advancement Project lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's photo-ID law. A court blocked the law, and she will be voting on Nov. 6.

"You take advantage of every opportunity you can to vote, and vote," Bettye said. "But be sure to understand why you're voting."

Nelson, who teamed up with the Advancement Project — a multiracial civil rights advocacy organization — created the series to inform 2012 voters about this issue and how it can affect their ability to cast their ballots. In addition to standing behind voter protection, the Advancement Project also tackles national issues like redistricting, rights restoration, immigrant justice and ending the "schoolhouse to jailhouse" track.

Take a look at their story of trial and triumph.

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