Posts Tagged ‘Voting Rights Act’

The Academy Awards: A Most Biographical Year

Academy Awards

Academy Awards Research Topic [Screencap via eLibrary]

It’s that time of year: awards season. The Golden Globe Awards have been presented recently and the Academy Awards, the 87th to be exact, will be given on February 22. Cinephiles will gather round televisions to root for their favorite movies and actors just as Patriots and Seahawks fans did two days ago. The Oscars are Hollywood’s “Super Bowl.”

The race for Best Picture this year is particularly noteworthy. Of the eight nominees, four are biographical—two Americans fighting for country in different ways and two British scientists making strides and becoming leaders in their fields.

The movie Selma stars David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and focuses on his leadership during the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches in 1965.  These marches helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.  Signed into law by President Johnson on August 6, 1965, the Act barred racial discrimination in voting.

American Sniper is the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most productive military sniper in US history with 160 confirmed kills. Bradley Cooper portrays Kyle who served four tours of duty in the Iraq War.  Sadly, Chris Kyle was shot and killed in 2013 by a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder whom he was helping.

Stephen Hawking is widely known for his work in cosmology.  In The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne depicts Stephen Hawking’s romance, marriage and life with his first wife Jane as well as his education and work in astrophysics. All the while, he struggles with onset of motor neuron disease (Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS) which he continues to battle to this day.

Alan Turing may be the least known of those whose stories have been put to screen this year.  Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Imitation Game as the man who would become known as the Father of Computer Science. Turing’s work at Bletchley Park breaking the German Enigma code during World War II helped save countless Allied lives and was influential in the development of modern computer science.

To learn more about these remarkable men, look no further than eLibrary.  A great jumping off point for your research is Research Topics.  You can easily find these by clicking on Find your Research Topic here on the Basic Search page.

Research Topics


Discoverer In the News: Voting Rights Act

March for Black Suffrage

Demonstrators participating in a march for black suffrage.
by Bruce Davidson/Library of Congress, via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer [Public Domain]

The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1870, gave African American men the right to vote. But some people in Southern states did not agree with the amendment, and so passed discriminatory laws that made it hard for African Americans to cast their votes. Some parts of the South enacted a poll tax or forced black people to take a literacy test. Sometimes white Southerners harassed or intimidated African Americans when they tried to register to vote.

Almost 100 years later, as a result of the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act was passed. This 1965 civil law made voter discrimination illegal. So all of the local election rules that made it difficult for African Americans to register to vote or cast a vote were now against national law.

The Voting Rights Act has been upheld by Congress several times. However, in June 2013, the Supreme Court declared Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. Section 4 prohibits states with a history of voter discrimination from making new election rules without special permission. Some people agree with this decision, others do not.

What do you think of this controversial decision? Check out this month’s “Discoverer In the News” feature and decide for yourself. Quiz yourself on the Voting Rights Act and decipher the meaning of an editorial cartoon on this topic.