Remembering Rosanell Eaton, An Outspoken Advocate for Voting Rights

When the Supreme Court shot down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act — which required that certain places with a history of discriminating against voters get federal

With Trump At The Border, A Look Back At U.S. Immigration Policy

President Trump traveled to a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, today, continuing on his campaign to drum up support for a $5.7 billion border wall. The visit came after

What A Case Of Mistaken Identity Tells Us About Race In America

Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old black girl, was buried this week in Harris County, Texas. She was fatally shot while sitting in the car with her mother and siblings on the

China Becomes First Country To Land On Far Side Of Moon, State Media Announce

That’s one giant leap for China.

China state television announced Thursday that China’s Chang’e 4 lunar explorer, which launched in early December, “became the first ever probe to soft-land on the far side of the moon.” The probe touched down at 10:26 Beijing time, the China Global Television Network said.

The landing “lifted the mysterious veil” from the far side and “opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration,” the broadcaster said, according to Reuters. (A soft landing is where a lander touches down as gently as possible; it is preferable to a hard landing.)

The six-wheeled rover landed in the southern section of the Von Kármán crater, near the moon’s south pole, Chinese media reported. China’s Xinhua News published a photo it says was taken by the probe “on the never-visible side of the moon.” While photos of the normally hidden far side of the moon have been previously taken from space, this would be the first image ever captured from the surface.

China’s lunar lander is loaded with a variety of cameras and sensors, including ground-penetrating radar to peer beneath the lunar surface, reported NPR’s Joe Palca while the probe was en route. “Although Chang’e 4’s mission is largely scientific, it is also a key bit of preparation for sending Chinese astronauts to the lunar surface,” wrote Palca. Only 12 humans have ever set foot on the moon, and all of them were Americans.

First Country To Land

The far side of the moon is “actually much more primitive” than the near side, with “really ancient crust that dates back to the very, very early solar system,” said Briony Horgan, a planetary scientist at Purdue University, previously told NPR.

“There are rocks all over the far side that are over 4 billion years old,” she said. “We’re really excited to see what those look like up close.”

The far side is sometimes erroneously referred to as the “dark side” of the moon, even though it does get sunlight. Traveling to the far side of the moon presents certain technical challenges — namely, it makes communication harder. Whereas Earth-bound scientists can communicate with the near side using direct radio communication, China first had to send a communications relay satellite to orbit above the far side of the moon, according to NASA. That satellite, the Queqiao, launched in May and entered orbit around the moon three weeks later.

“Queqiao means ‘Bridge of Magpies,’ referring to a Chinese folktale about magpies forming a bridge with their wings to allow Zhi Nu, the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, to reach her husband,” NASA wrote.

Remembering Rosanell Eaton, An Outspoken Advocate for Voting Rights

When the Supreme Court shot down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act — which required that certain places with a history of discriminating against voters get federal approval before making new changes to their voting laws — lawmakers in North Carolina wasted little time in passing sweeping new rules around voting. The state issued requirements for specific kinds of photo identification, cut back on early voting and preregistration.

Supporters of the new laws, who were overwhelmingly Republican, insisted that the measures were necessary to prevent voting fraud. But voting rights experts and advocates said that voter fraud was extremely rare and that the rules would make it much harder for younger voters, poorer voters, and black people — groups that were more likely to vote for Democrats and less likely to have official identification — to cast their ballots.

To Rosanell Eaton, the restrictive new laws seemed familiar. Eaton was the granddaughter of enslaved people who grew up under Jim Crow in Louisburg, N.C., and had been fighting against rules meant to keep black people from voting for nearly as long as she was legally eligible to cast a ballot. In the early 1940s, after she turned the legal voting age, Eaton traveled by mule wagon to register to vote at the Franklin County courthouse. But she found herself before three white men, who confronted her and tried to stop her. They demanded that she recite the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States — a common “literacy test” used to discourage and block and turn away black people from voting voters.

Remembering Rosanell Eaton

Eaton, unshaken, recited the entire thing. The men conceded and allowed her to register, making Eaton one of the first black voters in North Carolina since Reconstruction.

Eaton, who died on Saturday at the age of 97, was a well-known advocate for voting rights among Carolinians — she was a member of the NAACP, a county poll worker and a special registrar commissioner, helping thousands of people register to vote — but it wasn’t until she became the face of the lawsuit against the voting rules that North Carolina adopted in 2013 that she gained national prominence. Eaton, then 92, used her biography to place her state’s new rules into a larger history of disenfranchisement. “We have been this way before, but now we have been turned back and it’s a shame and a disgrace, and absolutely disgusting,” she said to a crowd at voting rights rally.