Music and Movies for Voting Month

Movies | Music

Learn about the history of Voting Rights in the United States with the following documentaries, feature films, and music CDs.

Movies

In 1965, six hundred brave citizens marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the right to vote. They were met that Sunday morning with tear gas as police officers charged on horseback. Since that iconic moment, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, a concerted campaign to suppress voting rights in America has continued. Emmy-winning filmmaker, Loki Mulholland ("The Uncomfortable Truth"), civil rights veteran, Joanne Blackmon Bland, and New York Times bestselling author, Carol Anderson ("White Rage") dive into the history of voter suppression and the need for us to challenge it in order to preserve our democracy and equality for all.

The New Deciders presents surprising numbers and the gripping real-life stories behind population change, demonstrating how demography becomes destiny for politics in the 2016 election and beyond.

Native American actor Martin Sensmeier travels to San Juan County, Utah, to investigate the controversy over the Bears Ears National Monument. While there, he learns how the fight over the monument is just one more battle in a long-running war between the county's Native American citizens and their Mormon neighbors over who will control the future of the county.His journey reveals how voting rights denied by the Mormons have led to the marginalization of their Native neighbors and learns about the long history of looting of sacred archeological sites in the county.

The bloody attacks of protestors in Selma in 1965 led to the historic protection of all Americans' right to vote. The film explores a cherished family story of Selma and the current state of voter suppression in America..​.Fifty one years ago, the nation watched in horror as bloody images of police attacks on civil rights protestors in Selma, Alabama aired on television. John Witeck was a sophomore at the University of Virginia when he saw the graphic coverage of Bloody Sunday, and when Dr. King called for supporters to travel to Selma to march for justice he packed his bags and journeyed south. Fifty one years later, John and his nephew Brian Jenkins (Director) traveled back to Alabama to document John’s story of Selma, the fight for voting rights, and the evolution of the Voting Rights Act; the law that prevented voting discrimination and protected every American’s right to vote. ..In 2013, this monumental protection for all Americans earned by the blood of heroized civil rights advocates was struck down by the Supreme Court. Alabama and many other states have since passed new types of restrictive voting laws that those who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King fought so hard to overcome.

In Academy Award nominated The Barber of Birmingham, 85 year-old barber and life-long civil rights activist James Armstrong looks back on the early days of the civil rights movement and links those struggles with a previously unimaginable dream -- the election of the first African-American president. Armstrong was the proud proprietor of Armstrong's Barbershop, a cultural and political hub in Birmingham, Alabama, for more than 50 years. In his small establishment, every inch of wall space was covered with inspirational newspaper clippings and photographs of his heroes, including Martin Luther King, Jr., who had his hair cut by Armstrong. Armstrong's commitment to civil rights took him to the front lines as one of thousands of average American foot soldiers who risked jail sentences and their lives in the fight for racial equality. Armstrong carried the American flag during the epic 1965 march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, a day that came to be known as Bloody Sunday when police beat the peaceful marchers. He also participated in and was jailed for other anti-segregation demonstrations. Armstrong filed a ground-breaking lawsuit that lead to his two sons enrolling as the first black students at the previously all-white Graymont Elementary in 1963. Armstrong lived long enough to witness the 2008 election of the first black president - an event he never believed he'd see in his lifetime, though his activism helped lead to that momentous day. The Barber of Birmingham tells the larger history and impact of the civil and voting rights movement through James Armstrong's personal journey, supplemented by commentary from other civil rights veterans and vividly illustrated with archival footage of key events in the movement. Nominated for Academy Award for best Documentary - Short Subject

The battles for African American women fought 100 years ago for a constitutional right and against segregationist and discriminatory Jim Crow laws in the South echo today as American women continue to work against voter suppression and for full access to the polls. During The nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Black women played an active role in the struggle for universal suffrage. They participated in political meetings and organized political societies, as well as attended political conventions at their local churches where they planned strategies to gain the right to vote.

The film opens as Mo makes an eye-opening discovery: The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to vote. Mo sets out to learn why the Founding Fathers deliberately omitted the right to vote from the Constitution--and to understand the consequences of this decision. His quest leads him to Indiana, which has some of the strictest voting laws in the country. He meets two impassioned local activists--Republican Dee Dee Benkie of Versailles and Democrat Mike Marshall of North Vernon--who take him inside their efforts to turn out every vote. Dee Dee, a member of the Republican National Committee who worked in Karl Rove's office at the White House, has met her match in Mike, a veteran political consultant and former State Representative. Things heat up when the Republicans file a lawsuit challenging thousands of Democratic absentee ballots. As he progresses on his journey, Mo explores the heated debate over Voter ID and voter fraud; searches for the Electoral College; gets to know a former felon who mistakenly believed she was disenfranchised for life; critiques ballot design with Todd Oldham; and encounters a range of activists, experts, and election administrators, along with some highly opinionated third graders, who offer commentary on how voting works--or doesn't work--in America.

Produced by Blackside, Eyes on the Prize tells the definitive story of the civil rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life, and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today. Winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Award, and a Television Critics Association Award, Eyes on the Prize is the most critically acclaimed documentary on civil rights in America. Eyes on the Prize recounts the fight to end decades of discrimination and segregation. It is the story of the people -- young and old, male and female, northern and southern -- who, compelled by a meeting of conscience and circumstance, worked to eradicate a world where whites and blacks could not go to the same school, ride the same bus, vote in the same election, or participate equally in society. It was a world in which peaceful demonstrators were met with resistance and brutality -- in short, a reality that is now nearly incomprehensible to many young Americans. 

Voting rights activist and Civil Rights Leader Fannie Lou Hamer, born in 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi, was the granddaughter of a slave and the youngest of 20 children. Raised by hardworking parents who were sharecroppers, she was no stranger to poverty or hardship. An inspirational speaker and writer, she used her powerful voice to raise the cause of equality and freedom for all blacks in America and became a defining force in the fight against social injustice during the early years of the civil rights movement. In this rare documentary, her struggles and triumphs are expressed through Hamer's own words as well as those of friends and colleagues. While attending the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Fannie Lou Hamer posed the defining question: Is this America? The land of the free and the home of the brave? Where we have to sleep with our telephone off the hook, because our lives be threatened daily because we want to live in peace as human beings in America? She will be remembered for winning the right to vote for Black Americans and exposing America's poverty by giving a voice to those in need. This program is an inspiration to anyone who has ever faced oppression and acts as a powerful reminder of what one individual is capable of achieving in the face of adversity.

Feature Film: Alice Paul and Lucy Burns were two defiant suffragist women who fought for the passage of the 19th Amendment. The two activists broke from the mainstream women's rights movement and created a more radical wing, daring to push the boundaries to secure women's voting rights in 1920. In a country dominated by chauvinism, this is no easy fight. Along the way, sacrifices are made: Alice gives up a chance for love, and collegue Inez Mulholland gives up her life.

This film follows the efforts of community leaders working to ensure Latino voter turnout. How will these efforts impact the presidential election result, and will 2020 be a tipping point for the impact of the Latino vote?

The lives of American women changed in far-reaching ways during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Trace late-19th-century social trends that led to more public roles for women and emerging ideas of women’s rights. Learn about the women’s suffrage movement and its embattled crusade to gain voting rights for women..

ONE VOTE is a small film about a big topic: American democracy. At a moment of unprecedented cynicism about the political process, ONE VOTE bears hopeful witness to the humanity and rich diversity of American voters, and to the unsung stories that comprise our exercise of democracy. It is an inspiring film that follows five diverse Americans on election day. At times funny, surprising and heart-wrenching, the film eschews partisan politics in favor of an honest portrayal of voters' Election Day experiences. It will move you to conquer their own obstacles and objections and to inspire one and all to participate in the democratic process.

Anchor Maria Hinojosa returns to Clarkston, Georgia, home to more than 40 different nationalities, to document its November 2013 city council and mayoral election — with three former refugees on the ballot. These candidates, many from war-torn countries, are exercising voting rights and actively engaging in democracy as political candidates and election workers for the first time. View the impact that the dream of democracy and citizenship has on immigrants and many of the South’s new residents.

Feature Film: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s historical struggle to secure voting rights for all people. A dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1964.

Gerrymandering has become an immensely powerful weapon of partisan advantage, creating an unresponsive and unaccountable government. But ahead of the 2020 elections and a new round of redistricting, voters are fighting back. With exclusive access to influential, citizen-led activist groups, as well as the legal team that brought the most important voting rights case in a generation to the Supreme Court, the film chronicles the civic grit that is turning the tide in the battle.

One hundred years after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, it tells the dramatic culmination story of the hard-fought campaign waged by American women for the right to vote, a transformative cultural and political movement that resulted in the largest expansion of voting rights in US history.

More than 50 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most extensive pieces of civil rights legislation, people of color across the United States still are engaged in a battle to protect their right to vote. VOTING MATTERS follows one dynamic woman working tirelessly on the ground and in the courts to ensure that they are not denied this right. When a key section of the Voting Rights Act was struck down in 2013, several states with a history of racial discrimination immediately attempted to pass laws that further restricted voter rights. This came in the form of limiting the window for voter registration, purging voters with inactive histories and requiring more restrictive forms of ID. There are currently 23 states with such voter restrictions. This film follows civil rights attorney Donita Judge as she helps several voters in Ohio cast ballots even though they initially were turned away.

Coming at a moment of profound political and social crisis, WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? reflects on a word we too often take for granted. Director Astra Taylor's idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spans millennia and continents: from ancient Athens' groundbreaking experiment in self-government to capitalism's roots in medieval Italy; from modern-day Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis to the United States reckoning with its racist past and the growing gap between rich and poor. 

Music

Cooder, Ry

Check out the song: "One Cat, One Vote, One Beer"

DiFranco, Ani

Check out the song: "Do or Die"

Karrin Allyson Sextet

A wonderful compilation of songs performed in tribute to the Women's Suffragette Movement.

Specials

Check out the song: "Vote for Me"

Sweet Honey in the Rock

Check out the song: "Give the People Their Right to Vote!"

Trout, Walter

Check out the song: "Be Careful How You Vote"

Summaries provided by DPL's catalog unless otherwise noted. Click on each title to view more information.