Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Affirm Section 5 Of The Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was enacted to ensure that African Americans had a right that has almost always been denied since they arrived here in chains. The opposing parties are asking the Court to end a requirement forcing Alabama and other southern states to get Department of Justice approval to change its voting procedures and electoral maps.

The Voting Rights Act already allows governments that have changed their ways to get out from under this humbling need to get permission through a “bailout provision.” Nearly 250 counties and local jurisdictions have done so; thousands more could be eligible based on the absence of recent discriminatory efforts in voting. My question and it should be of every African American is why Section 5 should be removed?

History tells us that after the Civil War when slavery ended, wink, there were very clever measures designed to deny African Americans the supposed most sacred right to vote. There were Amendments to the Constitution that should have been sufficient. However, those Anti-Americans who preached liberty and justice for all found ways to circumvent the law. They used such things as Poll Taxes, Literacy Tests, and when all else failed Terror.

Then there came an era called Reconstruction which resulted in what they called “Separate but Equal” which was nothing more than American Apartheid. Of course that worked out well for the racial extremist. It took one hundred years for America to pass a law that was meaningful to work to some degree, the Voting Rights Act, and now was to dismantle.   

Let’s take a look at some very recent history, like last year and last month, to see why this provision should not be removed. In the last election, Republican went to many extremes to suppress minority votes through a myriad of state laws making it a mission to deny their right to vote.  The consequences of those desperate maneuvers, along with the accompanying vitriolic rhetoric, restrictive voter ID laws, encouraged Electoral College gimmickry and professed themselves unconcerned about long wait times at polling places tells us why this act is needed.

The viability of the bailout option could play an outsized role in the Supreme Court’s consideration of the voting rights law’s prior approval provision, although four years ago, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas said the prospect of bailing out had been “no more than a mirage.”

I can vividly remember “Bloody Sunday,” nearly 50 years ago, when 600 peaceful, nonviolent protesters attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery to dramatize the need for voting rights protection in Alabama. As they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state troopers under orders from the Governor attacked with tear-gassed, clubbed, whipped, and trampled them with horses. Seventeen marchers were hospitalized that day.

In response, President Lyndon Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Act and later signed it into law. It is very clear that America has come a great distance since then, in large part thanks to the act, but efforts to undermine the voting power of minorities did not end after 1965. They still persist today. Just because a man of color is the president does not mean the battle is won.

Voting rights is still and danger. So let’s not tamper with one of the few laws that have been a beacon to this thing called Democracy. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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