A small group of advocates is shocked that the Democrats in Congress—who refuse to pass the nation’s 20th century’s civil rights laws and are treating the 20th century’s voting rights as a time to hide under the myth of racist legacy—have decided to codify one lie into law. There’s just one problem:
In fact, the lie they are trying to put into law is not true.
Why? Because the Voting Rights Act was passed in the aftermath of the horrific Selma, Alabama, campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the NAACP, and others. After the passage of the Voting Rights Act—which was the first time Congress had passed a law to protect voters after they previously had been told that they would not be protected—Voting Rights became the law of the land. We still have it, as we are reminded by the Supreme Court’s decision to gut this law in June. Congress passed another Voting Rights Act after the U.S. Department of Justice failed to defend it in court, and you might call it the Shelby County Voting Rights Act, after that same Judge Alex Kozinski, who wrote in his ruling that the law was “like a daughter” to him.
So really, are these current legislators in Congress not aware of their own hypocrisy? They, like President Trump and the Republicans who are busy persecuting immigrants, are really attacking the most vulnerable voters in this country. Voters like my great-great grandmother, you know her, Etta Harris, a Mother’s Day card recipient from Canton, Alabama, whose son was so beat up in the vote-suppressing town that he stopped coming to vote in the mid-30s. Instead, he just worked in a factory. It wasn’t until after the Voting Rights Act that Black voters could feel safe voting.
They, like President Trump and the Republicans who are busy persecuting immigrants, are really attacking the most vulnerable voters in this country.
President Trump and his party are very good at hiding a lie behind an umbrella or blanket. But since voting is a fundamental right—and is a right that many in this country have been told to hate—these politicians will have a hard time hiding. The 800,000 voters who no longer have adequate protections are probably our most vulnerable voters. A majority of them are low-income, elderly, people of color and people living with disabilities. Black women are more likely to rely on in-person voters where they register and vote. They are more likely to find it more difficult to do so.
If Congress passes this proposal that has the support of a conservative organization, most of us will be ashamed that we supported a bill that will deny American citizens their fundamental rights to exercise their right to vote.
Here are two ads that Black women from Virginia are sharing to highlight this issue:
Congress must pass the VRA so that Black voters like me can, once again, go to the polls and exercise our constitutional right to vote in our communities. There is no good reason not to protect a national voting rights law when a federal court has said it is vital to our nation’s security.
If Congress doesn’t pass this, then it should be stripped from the Constitution.
Now that a majority of Americans share our concerns about racism, you’re not just fighting against Congress; you’re fighting a war for our voting rights.
Emma Jones teaches journalism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. She is currently finishing her Master’s in Psychology.