I can’t believe Roberts said this “the pandemic sounds like the sort of thing that states will be responding to or should be, and that Congress should be responding to”, and then attacked the Federal government for responding. The rest of his statement should have been, “Given the complete failure of said states and Congress to act to protect the health and safety of their citizens in this pandemic, it is not only important but utterly necessary for the Federal government to intervene. Let me be clear - the states and Congress have failed. That they are suing the Federal government instead of thanking it is a travesty. Case dismissed!”

Expand full comment
Jan 8, 2022·edited Jan 8, 2022

More Important News from the state of Georgia:


'A coalition of Georgia voting rights groups says President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris should skip traveling to Atlanta next week unless they come with a concrete plan to pass federal voting laws immediately.'

'The statement was signed by the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Asian American Advocacy Fund, the New Georgia Project Action Fund and the GALEO Impact Action Fund, an organization representing Latinos. The groups reference Biden’s win in Georgia, plus Democrats’ victories in the January runoffs that gave the party control of the U.S. Senate.'

“Georgia voters made history and made their voices heard, overcoming obstacles, threats, and suppressive laws to deliver the White House and the US Senate,” the statement said. “In return, a visit has been forced on them, requiring them to accept political platitudes and repetitious, bland promises. Such an empty gesture, without concrete action, without signs of real, tangible work, is unacceptable.”

'The White House announced Wednesday that both the president and vice president would visit Atlanta on Tuesday to talk about the importance of passing new voting and election standards. But such legislation has stalled in the Senate, with Republicans using the filibuster to block debate and a 50-member Democratic majority unable to reach agreement on how to change Senate rules so that the legislation can pass by a simple majority vote.'

'The White House did not have an immediate response to the criticism from the voting groups. Press Secretary Jen Psaki during her daily press briefing reiterated statements Biden said in the past about supporting a Senate rule change to get voting bills passed, which is a priority for him. But the administration has not shared its game plan for overcoming the hurdles that remain.'

'There are two bills these activists would like to see become law, especially ahead of the legislative session in states such as Georgia where Republicans could attempt to pass new laws that reduce access to the ballot or make it more difficult to vote.'

'One proposal, named for the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, would reinstate federal oversight before states and local governments that reach certain criteria are allowed to change voting or election laws. The other would make Election Day a holiday, limit voter purges, allow people to register to vote and cast a ballot the same day, and create national standards for redistricting, early voting, drop boxes and voting by mail.'

'The statement from the voting rights groups says that they will “reject any visit by President Biden that does not include an announcement of a finalized voting rights plan that will pass both chambers, not be stopped by the filibuster, and be signed into law; anything less is insufficient and unwelcome.”

'James Woodall, the former president of the Georgia NAACP, is among the signers of the statement. He said Biden and Harris are welcome to visit Atlanta, but what is really needed is that they work harder on Capitol Hill.'

“The White House must respond to this current attack on democracy, and coming to Georgia for discussions is nice, but what we need is urgent action in D.C.,” he said. “We need to see the passage and signing of both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”


'Georgia voters made history and made their voices heard, overcoming obstacles, threats, and suppressive laws to deliver the White House and the US Senate. In return, a visit has been forced on them, requiring them to accept political platitudes and repetitious, bland promises. Such an empty gesture, without concrete action, without signs of real, tangible work, is unacceptable. As civil rights leaders and advocates, we reject any visit by President Biden that does not include an announcement of a finalized voting rights plan that will pass both chambers, not be stopped by the filibuster, and be signed into law; anything less is insufficient and unwelcome.

'Georgia will not be used as a two-dimensional backdrop, a chess piece in someone else’s ineffectual political dealings. Georgia voters are more than just convenient props in a political image game. Georgians are fighting every day to protect our freedom to vote from unrelenting attacks. We are tired, but we persist in doing the work. In the past year alone, voters and advocates have fought an onslaught of devastating anti-voter proposals, and have organized in the aftermath of the passage of SB 202. Right now, advocates and local leaders are fighting to stop the closure of 7 out of 8 polling places in Lincoln County — where over one-third of voters are Black. Just next week, the state legislature will convene, with Republican leaders already proudly touting their plans to attack voting access, push to ban drop boxes, and erect new hurdles in the path of voters. And the voters and advocates in Georgia remain, ready to do the work to try and slow them down and stop them from taking away their freedom to vote.'

'So as President Biden and Vice President Harris plan their visit to Georgia, our message is simple: We have voted, we have advocated, and we have organized. We have done the work. Now, it is time for you to deliver, and for you to do the work. We need President Biden and Vice President Harris to demand we restore the Senate and pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act NOW.'

'We reject any political visit that does not also come with policy progress — with signs of clear work done, of something accomplished. We reject any visit that fails to begin with the question “How does this serve the people of Georgia?” It is time for final action on voting rights, and Georgians are waiting.'

'Voters Matter Fund'

'Asian American Advocacy Fund'

'Woodall, former Georgia NAACP President'

'GALEO Impact Action Fund'

'New Georgia Project Action Fund'

The mission for all of us, our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, colleagues and everyone we can reach is to express to President Biden, Vice President Harris and all of our elected representatives the urgency for passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. It is the first priority in the NEW YEAR for all citizens in support of FAIR AND FREE ELECTIONS in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

The preceding article By Tia Mitchell, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was copied almost entirely in full. The links below to articles about this story are paywall, (on a website) an arrangement which limits access to users who have paid to subscribe to the site.




Expand full comment
Jan 8, 2022·edited Jan 8, 2022

I sent a printout of Jim Barger's essay on Armaud Arbery to my Alabama mother who is 87. In return, I got her notes on it which included racist rants as well as a newspaper column with a prayer that included deviants from the "word of the Lord."

I escaped LA (Lower Alabama) but unless 'outsiders' step in, the entrenched racism will rule the day. My relatives are teaching their children and grandchildren deep racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc., and that culture is not moving. My mother asked, "Did you own slaves? Well, I didn't either." The utter ignorance and abdication of responsibility, of knowledge, of history, of reason, is stunning.

Yes, I know there are evolved folks in the American South, and I also know, up close and personally, that there is endemic, embedded racism. It feeds on the lies of the idjt machine.

Expand full comment

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it! (George Santayana-1905). In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill changed the quote slightly when he said (paraphrased), “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

Yesterday I got in touch with Christiane Amapour and PBS Nightly Newshour asking them to interview Ms. Cox Richardson. We need news stories that are sourced and contextualized AND include historical information. Heather Cox Richardson, in her daily blog, does both.

Yesterday's headline--of course, somehow abbreviated-- could be "On a November day in 1861, Massachusetts abolitionist Julia Ward Howe woke up in the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C."

From January 7th blog, another headline, "Arbery murderers' use of Georgia’s citizens arrest law, dating from an 1863 law designed to permit white men to hunt down Black people escaping enslavement, failed. Now change the law!" Then within the article the excellent information give in Ms. Cox Richardson's blog could be included.

I've turned worry into anger by writing government representatives (local, state and national) and the professors in both history and political departments in the universities in my state (NC). I send the day's blog and write that I would like everyone to be aware of this source of information. For the professors, I ask that they share with their students. I've now started to write to news programs and papers. Other ideas. Please help, if you're so inclined. I'm over 80 but energized by this daily blog from which I'm learning so much.

Expand full comment

The Arbery case is a perfect example of white racist men off the rails. You are correct to point out how close this case came to avoiding justice. To go from almost swept under the rug to life sentences for the perpetrators is an astonishment. I live in Hamilton Co. TN, adjacent to GA, and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Congressional district, and I quite frankly feel like I live in a backwater, political wasteland. Both TN and GA have governors who are clueless, trumpy hacks, and coupled with Republican dominated legislatures, the culture here, both political and cultural, feels dark and depressing. There are two Americas, and I am not certain that this will change anytime soon. I know I can count myself amongst the majority, but where I live it does not feel that way. Angry, depressed and lost in TN.

Expand full comment

Beautiful work Professor. Full historical context is your signature, the last several centuries, decades, years ... literally up to the last 24 hours. Thank you very much.

Expand full comment

I couldn’t be more pleased with the sentences given to the white nationalist murderers today. Their crimes surely tested my anti capital punishment belief. My heart remains broken for Mr. Arbery and his family.

Expand full comment

This is such a powerful essay. Thank you. I too would love to see this published in major newspapers.

Expand full comment

And there it is, my take away from Heather’s words today, my takeaway, what jumps at me?

Most of us, I sure don’t, we have little knowledge of what goes on, how things really operate in our communities, our state, our country. Most of us, we have no idea what goes on.

Heather laid it out, told the story, gave the story context, where most media fails miserably.

I mean, are you freaking kidding me? It took two and a half months between the time a man was shot and killed, and then, the perpetrator choosing to have the video of his crime published, before some accountability begins? Really, in America, 2021. Really?

We receive (and most seem happy to receive) bits and bites, nuggets of news, in some places - pure SPIN. Most of us, we never know the whole story. We only see parsed snippets and so, how can we ever understand?

You gave me context Heather. Honestly, before today, I only knew snippets about this story. I'd been fed junk food news, and so, I had little understanding.

And that is it, that’s the thing. This is what happens - every day. We’re fed junk. We consume junk. Garbage in / garbage out.

I mean, we must look in the mirror. Who’s to blame? Start with the person in the mirror. That is always - the place to start.

We get what we accept. Right?

It’s time for WE THE PEOPLE to look in the mirror, stand up, expect more, begin with self and go from there. Be better. DO BETTER.

I read this somewhere. I wish they were, but they are not my words, but I love them. Here goes…

We Are the People We’ve Been Waiting For

Thank you Heather for shining light into the dark. You help us see. Thank you.

Expand full comment

This Letter needs to be published as a guest article in the NYTimes or WaPo.

It so clearly illustrates the inherent dangers of state’s rights and local law which have long resulted in what can best be described as tribal law.

Once again Heather connects to dots to show the big picture. Excellent!

Expand full comment

We now know from the murders of both George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, that cameras or videos are essential pieces of evidence for upholding justice. Hate is and always has been rampant in our “land of the free” country. It’s way past time to put an end to being manipulated by politicians whose goals are to undermine the general population. Write, march, protest, be LOUD, just do something!

Expand full comment
Jan 8, 2022·edited Jan 8, 2022

Very eloquently put, Dr Richardson, tying voting rights to the laws over everyday treatment of our neighbors. Most Americans wouldn’t make that connection.

I also saw this morning that the Governor of Louisiana posthumously pardoned Homer Plessy for the crime of sitting in the White Car of a train. The law, which was challenged in the Supreme Court - Plessy v Ferguson - was almost unanimously upheld, with one dissenting vote from Justice John Harlan. Justice Harlan stated that the Constitution is color blind, and that it was “wrong to let the states regulate the enjoyment of citizens' civil rights solely on the basis of race.”

I hope what we do today won’t take 6+ decades to correct, or 130 years to pardon.


Expand full comment

This is one of the stories in which we can see justice is served. The local assumptions are so frightening in their assumption of moral superiority that it is sickening. The lesson is that if there is no video footage, there is likely no justice.

Expand full comment

“ But it is also a story of local government and outsiders, and which are best suited to protect democracy.” These words. And the threads woven in the paragraphs you wrote today—Excellent column. Thank you

Expand full comment

What is sad to me is that many of my friends, family, and neighbors are not worrying about voting rights being taken away. When asked if they knew about the states that are putting these practices in place to essentially make a citizen's vote not matter, they either say they do not know what I am talking about or they say that would never happen. When I say it is happening and tell about it they do not seem to care. These folks only worry about the issue that matters to them and where they are in their own lives. How do we get people to care about this very important fundamental right that makes this country so unique and great?

Expand full comment

This verdict is good news. The Voting Rights Act must pass sooner or later.

Expand full comment