CAS Colloquium: Political science students present post-Civil Rights movement research

Political science students explored various aspects of post-Civil Rights movements in the College of Arts and Sciences Colloquium last week.

Sophomore political science major Rebekah Bogacz discusses the Congressional Black Caucus during the CAS Colloquium last week. Bogacz was one of political science professor Anne Flaherty's students who presented as part of Flaherty's African American Politics course. Photo by Kari Williams

Students in political science professor Anne Flaherty’s African-American politics course discussed their research for “Thinking About the Civil Rights Movement and African American Politics.” They had the option to present their work at the colloquium or write a paper on the subject of their choice. Sophomore political science major Rebekah Bogacz, whose research focused on the Congressional Black Caucus, was one of the students presenting research.

“I decided to focus on the Congressional Black Caucus just because I feel like they were a very powerful group that was established right after the Civil Rights movement and kind of [served as] the voice for the minority groups of African Americans,” Bogacz said. “… and they go to Congress and present their statistics and their findings and proposals.”

Bogacz said personal experience representing different ethnic groups in high school elections piqued her interest in the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Ever since then I kind of just had a really big really strong feeling for politics and just representing people who can’t speak for themselves…,” Bogacz said.

The presentation last week was Bogacz’s first, but she said she would like to present future research in the Meridian Ballroom.

Junior political science Nathanael Scott, who focused on the Fair Housing Act of 1968, discovered that housing changes have occurred since the act was introduced as an addition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Really, discrimination on race has changed, but discrimination hasn’t,” Scott said.

Realtors “decipher what kind of voice” they hear when potential homebuyers or renters call for information, according to Scott.

“That’s how they discriminate now against [certain people],” Scott said. “Instead of saying, ‘We don’t discriminate against race,’ but they’re still discriminating. [They’re] just doing it much more secretive way, you just don’t know it.”

Scott said he became interested in the topic because the housing act was something he was not initially aware of.

“I’ve only heard of like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act, but I didn’t hear that there was a housing act, so this was kind of interesting for me…,” Scott said.

Junior political science major Clinton Durbin presented research about African-American representation in presidential cabinets beginning with Lyndon B. Johnson. Durbin discovered that African-American cabinet secretaries have increased since Johnson’s term with Clinton having the highest number (seven).

“I was really interested in Barack Obama,” Durbin said. “He’s [an] African-American president, but he’s had fewer African-American secretaries in his cabinet so I wanted to look back and see how many other presidents have had [African-American representation]. He has three and Bush had four, but Bill Clinton had seven.”

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