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UK Voting Rights Conference Gets A Headliner

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2014 file photo, an election official checks a voter's photo identification at an early voting polling site in Austin, Texas.

Spurred by the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the University of Kentucky Martin School of Public Policy is bringing a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer to campus to keynote a voting rights conference.

Jon Meacham, former Newsweek editor and author of bestselling books on Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, is slated to headline the October conference, which will explore the roots of the landmark legislation and how it continues to find its way into the courts.

"It's just an opportune time to deal with an issue which is being discussed nationwide and certainly leading up to the presidential election of 2016. It's going to become a more significant issue as we go forward," says Merl Hackbart, interim director of the Martin School.

In 2013, the Supreme Court rescinded a provision in the Voting Rights Act allowing for federal oversight of voting laws in states with a track record of racial discrimination – a decision that’s spawned several court cases as states like Texas move to enact stricter voter ID requirements.

Meacham will be joined at the conference by Dorothy Gilliam, who served as the first female African-American reporter and later columnist at the Washington Post.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.