ARLINGTON — Legal professionals will convene in Arlington today for a community conversation about recent changes to the Voting Rights Act and the Trayvon Martin verdict.The Arlington NAACP will host the 6-7 p.m. event at the Arlington Museum of Art. Arlington NAACP president Alisa Simmons said the group has functioned at a minimal level in the past year, and she decided to combine its membership drive with a dialogue about voting rights and the Trayvon Martin case. Simmons said the group will talk about the system of justice regarding the Trayvon Martin verdict and how that relates to civil and human rights. Martin, 17, was slain in 2012 by George Zimmerman, a community watch volunteer. Zimmerman was acquitted earlier this month by a jury in Florida. Martin's supporters say Zimmerman profiled and followed him because Martin was black.The Supreme Court on June 25 struck down a key Voting Rights Act provision originally created to monitor states known for historically disenfranchising minorities. Texas was one of the nine states originally targeted. “Legal experts will talk about the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s actions and how that will impact the community,” Simmons said. “I hope attendees will learn how it affects them.” Arlington attorney Douglas Greene will provide historical context of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and moderate discussion between local attorneys Jesse Gaines and Glenn Lewis, and Tarrant state District Judge Wayne Salvant and former state District Judge Maryellen Hicks.“We’ll have conservative and liberal panelists give their views and take questions, Simmons says. “What’s going to come from their mouths — I do not know,” Simmons said. State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prarie, Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson and Yoel Zehaie, UT-Arlington NAACP political action chairman, will also make comments. The community is invited to attend and engage in conversation. Recently U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Texas should require federal clearance to change its voting practices due to redistricting purely for racial discrimination.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter: @MonicaNagyFWST