Sunday, August 6, 2017

We Must Honor the Voting Rights Act by Restoring It (VIDEOS)

By Andrew Glass
Today marks the 52nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) on August 6, 1965 and delivered remarks from the Capitol Rotunda at its signing.

In part this is what Johnson said:

Three and a half centuries ago the first Negroes arrived at Jamestown. They did not arrive in brave ships in search of a home for freedom. They did not mingle fear and joy, in expectation that in this New World anything would be possible to a man strong enough to reach for it.

They came in darkness and they came in chains.

And today we strike away the last major shackle of those fierce and ancient bonds. Today the Negro story and the American story fuse and blend.

In addressing white opposition, he said:

It is difficult to fight for freedom. But I also know how difficult it can be to bend long years of habit and custom to grant it. There is no room for injustice anywhere in the American mansion. But there is always room for understanding toward those who see the old ways crumbling. And to them today I say simply this: It must come. It is right that it should come. And when it has, you will find that a burden has been lifted from your shoulders, too.

It is not just a question of guilt, although there is that. It is that men cannot live with a lie and not be stained by it.

It's incomprehensible that we now have a President who wants to turn the clock back on the little progress we have made since 1965 and suppress the right to vote.

Voting must be a right and not a privilege. 

Robert Reich:

Recognizing the history of racist attempts to prevent black people from voting, the VRA forced states to adhere to federal guidelines allowing citizens access to the polls. But decades later these rights are still under attack. States across the country have adopted voter suppression laws and the Trump administration could try to implement similar measures at the national level. We must stay vigilant. The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy.

Here's Johnson's speech in full. It's long but worthwhile listening.