Civil rights

National civil rights leaders meet with President Biden following the declaration of a state of emergency for democracy

Urged the president to take strong action to protect voting rights and close economic gaps

Contact: Shin Inouye, [email protected]

WASHINGTON DC- Days after declaring a state of emergency for democracy in the United States, the country’s top civil rights leaders met with President Biden at the White House today to urge the administration to embolden the right to vote , improve economic opportunity and advance civil rights.

Sunday, the 59e anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, these leaders issued a call to action for all Americans to protect the right to vote. This essential American right is arguably the most threatened since the Jim Crow era, which sparked the historic first march in 1963. At the White House today, these leaders spoke about how Americans face the same issues today than decades ago and urged the president to act quickly in the coming year.

The meeting was attended by leaders of the National Urban League, National Action Network (NAN)the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, NAACP, Legal Defense Fund, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Lawthe Leaders Conference on Civil and Human Rightsand National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).

Marc H. Morial, The President and CEO of the National Urban League, said:
“The anti-democracy wave that began to rise after record black voting rates in 2008 and culminated with the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder to eviscerate the Voting Rights Act has now smashed against “The Big Lie.” Radical federal and state lawmakers, who openly coordinate with violent extremists in a campaign of intimidation and repression, are dangerously close to dismantling American democracy and establishing autocratic rule. President Biden dramatically drew the line between ‘the light of truth’ and the ‘shadow of lies’ during his speech in Philadelphia yesterday, and we as civil rights leaders stand ready to work with his administration. to guide the nation to the light. The fierce backlash against racial justice and equal opportunity is born out of fear and ignorance, and only a clear-headed analysis of reality can overcome it.

Reverend Al Sharpton, The president and founder of the National Action Network, said:
” Persistence the disintegration of suffrage and the urgent need for fundamental police and criminal justice reform will continue to be our wake-up call until protest is turned into legislation and every American has access equal to jobs, to the vote and to the protection of our fundamental rights. We urge Washington to achieve the same dream that was sought 59 years ago this week at March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The anniversary of this inflection point was the reason we requested a meeting with the President to highlight the alarming decline in civil rights in this country.

Melanie CampbellPresident and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and moderator of the Black Women‘s Roundtable, said:
“Earlier this week, we celebrated the 59th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, a collective response against racism, hatred and repression that has tormented and terrorized black people for decades, and the impact it had on the establishment of historic civil rights. , voting rights and fair housing legislation in the 1960s. Today, our rights and freedoms are under attack again. Racist and white nationalists are threatening our democracy, and the US Supreme Court and state legislators are overruling voting rights, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. Today I shared with President Biden that black people, especially black women and families, have not fully recovered economically from the global COVID-19 pandemic; and the critical need to address gun violence and police reform to keep Black communities safe. Additionally, black women, who lead black voter turnout and make up the majority of poll workers in black communities, are extremely concerned about the threat of white nationalist intimidation at the polls. We urge the Biden-Harris administration to do everything in its power to protect voters and election workers to ensure their safety as they go to the polls for the 2022 midterm elections across the country. country.

Derrick JohnsonPresident and CEO of the NAACP, said:
“Somehow, in the year 2022, equality and justice remain out of reach for Black communities across America. The disparities our community faces are stark – just look at the disaster unfolding in my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, where over a hundred thousand people, the majority of whom are black, lack access to water drinkable for the foreseeable future. This crisis is a direct result of the failures of politicians who put party and politics on the issues that will help people in communities like Jackson, Mississippi, Flint, Michigan and the many other majority black cities that have been left behind. too long. . We need elected officials who will put people above politics and address issues that affect communities of color. With the November elections just two months away, officials seeking to win our votes must show that they are with us and will fight for us.

Damon HewittPresident and Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said:
“In 2020, we hoped that we would experience a long overdue mass racial reckoning in this country. However, for the past two years, we have found ourselves in a brutal and deeply harmful reversal of this momentum. Our democracy is threatened by draconian state laws, conspiracy theories, economic insecurity, racism and hatred. We must pass meaningful and sweeping suffrage legislation for Black Americans and other communities of color facing unprecedented threats of voter suppression and electoral subversion. We must resist the effort to circumvent accountability issues and blindly invest in law enforcement in the same communities that have experienced police brutality, leading us back to the “tough on crime” policies of he is a generation that inevitably lead to the excessive incarceration of black people. and brown communities. We must create pathways to economic prosperity in communities of color, both urban and rural. We must advance a whole-of-society approach to addressing white supremacist violence — always demanding justice, but also moving beyond law enforcement responses to the nation’s primary domestic threat. And we must ensure that the civil rights protections we fought for apply in all spheres of public and private life, including online, where so many of us live our lives these days. I look forward to our continued work alongside the Biden administration on these and other efforts that are needed to build the future we deserve.

Janai NelsonPresident of the Legal Defense Fund and Director-Lawyer, said:
As President Biden forcefully stated in his speech last night: we are fighting for the soul of the nation. This fight requires honest introspection on how we got here. The myth of white supremacy, which has undermined and overpowered our democracy since its inception, must be eliminated from the ground up. And we must seize this moment of promise to achieve this. It compels Americans to elect a Congress that will advance the constitutional ideals of justice, equality, and democracy. The twin threats of voter suppression and election sabotage mean that none of us can take our right to vote for granted. It is absolutely imperative that every individual and every community dedicated to continuing the gains we have made commit to participating in the November elections. It is also imperative that every state and federal actor work to protect the right to vote and remove barriers to voting, especially those that target and disenfranchise Black voters. It’s the only way forward.

Maya WileyPresident and CEO of the Civil and Human Rights Leadership Conference, said:
“The civil rights movement has fought hard and suffered unimaginable sacrifices to ensure that ‘we the people’ include us all – from the ballot box to the workplace, and in the classroom. We have made real progress that has frightened some and been manipulated by others to roll back our rights. But we are resolute in the face of white supremacy, extremism and fear to fight for voting rights, workers’ rights, access to abortion, fair courts and a just economy. We applauded the President’s speech calling on this nation to stand up for democracy, a fight we as black people have fought on the front lines for generations. And democracy is on the ballot in November. We told the president that the stakes are high, for black people, as well as for all people of color, women of all races, and LGBTQ people. We told the president that we needed the full force of the federal government to protect every voter from political violence, intimidation and barriers. We cannot allow the forces of white supremacy who want to take away our basic human freedoms to win. »

Dr. Thelma Thomas DaleyNational President of the National Council of Negro Women, said:
“Public education is the foundation of our society, and it is crumbling and in need of repair. Teachers leave the profession. In 2020, enrollment fell to its lowest level since 1943. This decline has a direct impact on public school funding, student performance and the prospect that many children will be left behind. And at the same time, schools are struggling to hire and retain qualified teachers and support staff. An enlightened citizenship is the best guarantee of democracy. The Legal Defense Fund, the NAACP and the NCNW were formed in response to official blatant disregard for democratic principles. We must do in our time what our founders did in their time: unite to promote free and fair elections, the rule of law, and equal opportunity to realize the American dream. History will hold us accountable and future generations deserve nothing less.

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