Today the nation tunes in as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 takes center stage. Activists— from prominent leaders who played pivotal roles in the Civil Rights Movement to young proponents carrying the torch—are calling for expansion of the act, and President Obama is taking things a step further, calling on Congress to restore the law and urging people to register to vote. His conversation commemorating the anniversary can be viewed here, starting at 2 p.m. today.
Obama has called the Voting Rights Act “one of the crowning achievements of our democracy,” but has indicated that the legislation “stands weakened, its future subject to political rancor.”
50 years ago today, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, securing the right to vote for millions of African Americans.
— President Obama (@POTUS) August 6, 2015
The Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the VPA in 2013, ruling that states with a history of discrimination are no longer required to have voting changes pre-approved by the Justice Department.
“We owe a great deal to those who stood up to discrimination, threats of violence and even death to push for the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965,” said Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. “Every citizen should have the chance to vote in our elections while we also work to ensure the integrity of the voting process by preventing things such as mistakes, fraud and confusion.”
“If the Voting Rights Act was restored fully, it would help to ensure that every eligible citizen is able to exercise his or her right to vote without discriminatory obstacles in place,” says Angelia Wade Stubbs, associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO.
Stubbs offers the following tips for young minorities to empower themselves to learn more about the legislative process and vote responsibly:
Educate yourself. “They can get educated on the process by regularly visiting their state’s website on elections and keeping abreast of any legislative changes,” she says.
Research candidates and their positions and get information on the issues of the day from a variety of news sources to expose yourself to a diversity of angles and opinions on candidates and issues.
Share information with your network. Talk to your family, church leaders, community peers, sorority, fraternity and social club members to encourage them to get involved in the process. Check out more on the Voting Rights Act Anniversary and commemoration via social media:
Without the right to vote, all other rights are at risk. Our task to restore the Voting Rights Act is as critical as it was in 1965. #VRA50
— Vice President Biden (@VP) August 6, 2015
At this time 50 yrs ago today, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law. pic.twitter.com/TBcsbgplSy
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) August 6, 2015
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) August 6, 2015
— Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) August 6, 2015
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) August 6, 2015
— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) August 6, 2015