Chris Kromm

Chris Kromm is the executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies. 

Recent Articles

How the Decline of Southern White Evangelicals Fuels the Passage of 'Religious Freedom' Laws

They've been the driving force behind anti-LGBT legislation. But now their numbers are falling off.

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
This article originally appeared at Facing South , the website published by the Institute for Southern Studies . Last month, Indiana sparked a national debate over so-called "religious freedom" bills, a controversy that soon flared up in other states across the South and country. A similar bill stalled in the Georgia House amidst the backlash. In Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, signed that state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act only after substantial revisions, although civil rights advocates say it still doesn't go far enough . North Carolina's Governor Pat McCrory, who is also a Republican, said he won't support his state's proposed RFRA bill, which scholars and activists say would allow for a wider range of discriminatory practices based in religion. As many quickly pointed out, these measures aren't new: A federal "religious freedom" act passed in 1993 . After the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that it couldn't be enforced at the state level, states moved to pass...

Selma March Commemorated By Politicians Who Support Gutting of Voting Rights

The 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday—the catalyst for passage of the Voting Rights Act—is being remembered at a moment when voting rights in the South are at their most precarious in half a century.

(AP Photo/file)
This article was originally published by Facing South , the website published by the Institute for Southern Studies. This weekend, tens of thousands of people—including nearly one-fifth of the U.S. Congress and President Obama —are descending on Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the famous Selma to Montgomery march. The irony is rich: The 1965 Selma march —and the violent "Bloody Sunday" caused by the reaction of Alabama troopers, which horrified the nation —is credited with speeding passage of the Voting Rights Act , one of the crowning achievements of the civil rights struggle. But Selma's legacy is being remembered at a moment when voting rights in the South, and the Voting Rights Act itself, are in their most precarious position in half a century —and there appears to be little political will in Washington to act on measures that would solidify the legal architecture to protect free and fair access to elections. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme...

Republicans Tighten Grip in Southern State Legislatures

While Senate races distracted observers, the GOP piled up wins at the state level, all but assuring the prospects for more extreme measures on abortion and voting rights.

(Image: National Conference of State Legislatures)
This article originally appeared at Facing South , the website published by the Institute for Southern Studies. While all eyes were on the shellacking of Democratic U.S. Senate candidates—including 10 who lost in the South —Republicans strengthened their hand in another key area on Election Day: control of state legislatures. After the 2014 elections, Democrats have the majority in just one legislative chamber across 13 Southern states —the Kentucky House of Representatives. In West Virginia, the only other remaining Democratic legislative stronghold in the South, Republicans gained 15 seats to take control of the House of Delegates, and gained seven in the state Senate to bring the West Virginia higher chamber to a 17-17 partisan tie. Altogether, Republicans gained 64 legislative seats in 10 Southern states in 2014. (Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia hold elections in odd-numbered years.) While some races are still being finalized, the following chart drawing on...

Which Southern State Is Feeling the Brunt of Big Money Election Spending?

It's not just North Carolina.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
This article originally appeared on Facing South , the website published by the Institute for Southern Studies. Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's bid to defend her seat against Republican challenger Thom Tillis is shaping up to be one of the most expensive U.S. Senate races in history: a flood of more than $103 million in spending from the campaigns and outside groups, according to The Charlotte Observer. This month, the spending spree has translated into about three TV ads every five minutes supporting—or, more frequently, attacking —one of the North Carolina candidates. Yet as money-drenched as the Hagan-Tillis contest may be, voters in Arkansas and other Southern states may be feeling even more battered by the barrage of political spending this election season. North Carolina is one of five states in the South with Senate races in 2014 that will determine whether the chamber is controlled by Democrats or Republicans. With more than 6.6 million registered voters, North...

North Carolina's Tug-of-War

What happens when a state becomes more progressive and more conservative at the same time?

Victor Juhasz
Victor Juhasz This piece is the third in our Solid South series. Read the opening essay by Bob Moser here , Abby Rapoport's Texas reporting here , and Jamelle Bouie on Virginia here . Bill Cook may be a relative newcomer to North Carolina politics—he won his 2012 state senate race by 21 votes, after two recounts—but he has big plans for the state. By this spring’s filing deadline, Cook, a power--company retiree from the coastal town of Beaufort, had sponsored no fewer than seven measures aimed at rewriting the state’s election rules—largely in ways that would benefit Republicans. Over the past decade, North Carolina has become a national model for clean elections and expanded turnout, thanks to reforms like early voting, same-day registration, and public financing of some races. New voters—mostly people of color and college students—helped Democrats turn the state into a presidential battleground, which Barack Obama won by a hair in 2008 and...