After Republicans block voting rights bill, black women activists fight back

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 29: Voting rights activists, led by National African American Clergy Network co-chair Barbara William Skinner (2nd L), US Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) (3rd L), President and Chief from the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Executive Melanie Campbell (4th L), Cora Masters Barry (5th L), wife of the late DC Mayor Marion Barry, and Chair and Board Chair of the National Council Black women Johnnetta Cole (R), participate in a protest on Capitol Hill on July 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Leaders of national organizations serving black women, activists and allies have planned a new round of peaceful actions this week to heighten the urgency around existing calls for Congress to pass comprehensive law on the law. to vote.

“There is a direct line between protecting our voting rights and implementing policies that benefit millions of women and people of color,” said Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation and host of its Black Women’s. Round table.

The push comes after a Republican-led obstruction in the Senate last week crushed debate over voting rights legislation for the third time. Last Wednesday, Senate Republicans voted unanimously against opening the debate on the freedom to vote law. The law for the people was also blocked previously in the Senate. John Lewis’s Advancement of Voting Rights Act – introduced by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) – has been passed by the House, but a Senate bill awaits further action.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has now said he intends to introduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Bill to the Senate as early as this week.

“… Despite Republican opposition, the fight to protect our democracy is far from over in the United States Senate,” Schumer said. “Voting rights are too precious, too fundamental to be abandoned because of the obstruction of the minority. ”

He added that the Voting Rights Act has always been bipartisan. “But following the ouster from the law by recent Supreme Court rulings, the voting rights law must be reinstated and the Senate should, at a minimum, be allowed to debate it.”

This week, the National Council of Black Women and the NCBCP Black Women Roundtable will join forces with other national civil rights, labor, faith, women’s rights, and economic and social justice organizations. to welcome what is called “Black Women Leaders and Allies Take Action”.

The Tuesday October 26 event is billed as a national day of appeal asking voters to contact their senators about voting rights and topics such as the Biden-Harris administration’s pending infrastructure package.

On Thursday, October 28, the week of action will conclude with a “March for Freedom” that begins at 1:30 p.m. at the headquarters of the National Council of Black Women in DC to the US Senate building.

“Voting rights guarantee all the other rights we have as citizens,” said Janice L. Mathis, executive director of the National Council of Black Women. “Black women must seize this moment to preserve democracy and protect our families, communities and the nation from voter suppression. ”

This week’s actions follow a three-day, 70-mile “freedom to vote” stint between West Virginia and Washington, DC last Thursday to urge lawmakers to pass federal voting rights legislation.

Black Voters Matter co-founders LaTosha Brown and Cliff Albright and Martin Luther King III, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Drum Majors for Change, joined forces with local leaders, organizers and community members.

People walked, ran and biked to the United States Capitol in DC, making stops at Harpers Ferry in West Virginia and Points of Rocks and Glen Echo Park in Maryland. The route was meant to retrace the nation’s struggle for freedom.

Advocacy groups supporting the event included Public Citizen, League of Conservation Voters, DC Vote, League of Women Voters, Declaration for American Democracy, and Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both spoken out on voting rights in recent days.

Both attended the 10th anniversary celebration of the unveiling of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in the nation’s capital. The family of the late Dr. King and Coretta Scott King were in attendance, as were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

“We must defend and strengthen the right that frees all other rights: the right to vote,” said Vice President Harris to applause.

“And as we all know, in 2013 the voting rights law that Dr King and so many others fought for was devastated by the Supreme Court ruling in Shelby v. Holder. This decision opened the floodgates for the anti-election laws that we see being passed in the states of our country today, ”she said. “And of course, we shouldn’t have to fight so hard to secure our basic rights. But we have to fight, and we will.

Campbell agreed. She said the window to pass critical legislation was closing and Congress must act now before it is too late. She also urged Congress to pass the Biden-Harris administration’s Build Back Better and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs bills, which are currently pending in both houses.

These measures have a disproportionate impact on communities of color, Campbell noted.

“The power of black female voters and others is what has moved power into the halls of Congress and the White House,” she said. “Black women and our allies demand that their leaders keep these promises. Voting rights are not negotiable. Economic justice is a priority. We will continue to fight for both because the two are inextricably linked. ”

SUBJECTS: black voters’ right to vote