Sunday PlatformVideo

Alice Smith: Discrimination Dressed as Protecting Civil Rights

By January 3, 2021 January 12th, 2021 No Comments

The 1965 Voting Rights Act resulted in a massive increase in voting and voter registration amongst people of color, non English-speaking citizens, those with disabilities, especially in the states and counties covered by the Voting Rights Act.

In 2013, after Shelby County v Alabama ruled the formula for the covered states unconstitutional, the covered states reverted to their former vote suppression tactics dressed up in protecting the integrity of the vote. My talk will focus on how some of us fought back.

Justice Ginsburg was right when she wrote in the dissent in Shelby County:

“Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

Alice Schaffer Smith founded National Voter Corps in November 2016 after watching vote suppression deny citizens their right to vote. National Voter Corps is a national, non-partisan, umbrella organization which successfully has connected volunteers with non-partisan organizations to fight voter suppression and work towards 100% voter participation. Reclaim Our Vote, a non-partisan voter rights organization based in Virginia, is one example where NVC volunteers initiated a California committee that has written millions of letters and made phone calls to disenfranchised after the notorious Shelby County v Holder decision in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina since 2018.

After being required to resign her IBM position as a systems engineer (due to pregnancy), once her 2 daughters were in school, she attended law school. Her legal career spanned 36 years as in-house lawyer in information technology companies in California and England. She continues to be active in human rights organizations including Greater Good Haiti, Human Rights Watch, League of Women Voters, Amnesty International and the ACLU of Northern California. She earned a BA from Smith College and a JD from Golden Gate University Law School.

Currently, she is an avid bridge player, bird-watcher, political volunteer and proud grandmother of five. She resides in Palo Alto, California.


Sunday Platform is our most important and long-standing community event. These gatherings educate, stimulate personal growth, inspire reflection and action, and strengthen our community. Sunday meetings usually begin with music, followed by greetings and a talk given by a Society Leader, member, or guest.  Platforms cover a variety of topics that reflect current events, pressing social issues, and Ethical Culture philosophy. A collection basket is passed and money is shared between the Society and a charity selected for that day.  While contributions are always appreciated, Sunday meetings are free and open to the public.  Each Sunday meeting is followed by a luncheon and social hour.

To view previous Sunday Platform addresses and interviews, visit the Ethical NYC YouTube channel.

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