Fragile Democracy: The Struggle over Race and Voting Rights in North Carolina by James L. Leloudis and Robert R. Korstad is now available as an audiobook via Libro.fm, Audible, Kobo, and Hoopla.
Praise for Fragile Democracy:
“A researched look at North Carolina’s fraught relationship with race and voting. By looking back, [Leloudis and Korstad] create a framework for the future.”—IndyWeek
“As Triangle-area professors James Leloudis and Bob Korstad ably document in their new book Fragile Democracy: The Struggle over Race and Voting Rights in North Carolina . . . arguments over who ‘deserves’ to vote are closely tied to struggles over whose interests government should serve.”—Queen City Nerve
“Fragile Democracy provides a powerful reckoning with the history of voting rights in North Carolina, from the era of Reconstruction to our own time.”—Kevin M. Kruse, author of Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974
America is at war with itself over the right to vote, or, more precisely, over the question of who gets to exercise that right and under what circumstances. Conservatives speak in ominous tones of voter fraud so widespread that it threatens public trust in elected government. Progressives counter that fraud is rare and that calls for reforms such as voter ID are part of a campaign to shrink the electorate and exclude some citizens from the political life of the nation.
North Carolina is a battleground for this debate, and its history can help us understand why–a century and a half after ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment–we remain a nation divided over the right to vote. In Fragile Democracy, James L. Leloudis and Robert R. Korstad tell the story of race and voting rights, from the end of the Civil War until the present day. They show that battles over the franchise have played out through cycles of emancipatory politics and conservative retrenchment. When race has been used as an instrument of exclusion from political life, the result has been a society in which vast numbers of Americans are denied the elements of meaningful freedom: a good job, a good education, good health, and a good home. That history points to the need for a bold new vision of what democracy looks like.
James L. Leloudis is professor of history, Peter T. Grauer Associate Dean for Honors Carolina, and director of the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also co-chair of the UNC Commission on History, Race, and a Way Forward.
Robert R. Korstad is professor emeritus of public policy and history at Duke University’s Terry Sanford School of Public Policy.