Celebrate Civil Rights on November 4th
Earlier this month the Supreme Court launched another in a series of attacks on the voting rights of all Americans.
The court allowed Texas’s controversial new voter ID law to stand, a decision that will restrict the voices of African Americans, Latinos, seniors, the poor and students.
Since the Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Shelby case, there has been a systematic and coordinated effort to impose restrictive and discriminatory laws and practices to suppress voter participation amongst minorities and the socio-economically disadvantaged.
As the heirs of the civil rights movement, we cannot allow these assaults to stand.
We must be defiant.
We must stand up to those that want to turn back the clock and restrict OUR right to vote.
Voting rights are bedrock of our democracy. A right that people marched for in Selma, suffered fire hoses for in Birmingham and bled for in Neshoba County.
Today, we, as a nation, must honor their sacrifices and embody the courage of our civil rights leaders. The ballot box, on November 4th, is where we make our stand.
In the 50 years since Freedom Summer, our country has made tremendous progress towards greater equality. Yet, racial discrimination is far from over, especially in voting rights. We have seen this discrimination in voter ID laws, limited early voting and biased attempts at redistricting.
The only way to end these discriminatory laws and practices is to vote on November 4th for candidates that support restoring and protecting the voting rights of all Americans.
Right now, there is a bipartisan bill to correct some of the damage done by the Shelby decision. While the bill is far from perfect, it is a step in the right direction.
Sadly, the House Republican leadership refuses to hold a hearing or vote on the bill, despite broad bipartisan and public support. We can pass this bill (H.R. 3899) but there are those, in positions of leadership, that are afraid of minority, young and older voters.
They want to turn back the clock to the days of poll taxes and Jim Crow. As a community and nation, we have come too far to allow the clock to be turned back.
We must stop these regressive practices.
It falls upon us to stand up: at the ballot box and in our communities.
Each of us must do our part by voting and encouraging our friends and families to vote.
As we continue to fight for greater economic opportunity, an end to institutional racial biases and a brighter future for our children, we must not forget the last generation’s victories.
They won us the right to vote; we must preserve it for ourselves and our children. This starts November 4th.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee represents California’s 13th Congressional District. She served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 111th Congress and serves as co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Poverty and Economy Task Force.