Civil movement

The suffrage movement will, as always, persevere

Morgan is the director of Declaration for American Democracy.

The Senate Vote Against Advancing Suffrage: The John R. Lewis Act may have been a setback, but it was not a defeat. The fight for the right to vote in America has never been easy. From the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1869 to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, major steps towards the emancipation of every American have often been met with resistance, but have always been advanced. As many Republican legislatures across the country continue to introduce and pass anti-election laws targeting black and black voters, our work is as vital today as it was in 1870 or 1965.

As I reflect on the way forward for the voting rights community, I am grateful for the dedicated activists who work tirelessly to secure the freedom to vote for every American and give me hope that transformational change is ahead. the horizon. The strength, diversity and unity of the groups and individuals who led and ran for this movement led the House of Representatives to pass the Freedom to Vote Act reforms: John R. Lewis Act, have made the Senate vote possible and spurred 48 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to vote in favor of rule reform.

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Throughout 2021, activists have never backed down to ensure our elected leaders protect the right to vote, end the overwhelming influence of black money in our democracy, defend against election sabotage, and ensure that every American has an equal voice and fair representation in our government. We held regular movement meetings to educate our neighbors on the need for transformational democratic reform, took to the streets in “Votercades” to raise awareness and build energy around protecting the right to vote, and organized innovative actions online and in person to continue organizing safely during a pandemic. An unprecedented 150 state lawmakers have traveled to DC to demand that the federal government adopt national standards to end the assault on suffrage unfolding in legislatures across the country. As the vote neared, hundreds of activists faced arrest outside the White House to demand that President Biden step in to help pass transformative voting rights legislation.

But despite our pleas for senators to listen to us, we have been disappointed by those who feel more loyal to corporate donors and the preservation of their own political power than to us, the voters who elected them in the first place. . Fifty-two senators voted against updating Senate rules to allow simple majority voting on the freedom to vote: John R. Lewis Act. Each of these senators cemented their legacies as obstacles to legislation that would protect our democracy from anti-election laws designed to sabotage future elections and silence voters of color.

Just as Mary Church Terell, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis persevered, today’s suffrage advocates will persevere to honor our forefathers’ vision of an inclusive democracy that reflects the American people. We will not stop and we will continue to adapt. Progress can and will be made at the local, state and federal levels. The next steps for the suffrage movement are clear: We must continue to organize and advocate until every American has fair representation in our government. As the Senate and the Biden administration consider alternative legislation and executive actions, it is critical that our elected leaders prioritize bold, comprehensive solutions that address the multiple threats facing our democracy.

More than 150 years after the 15th Amendment was ratified, we shouldn’t have to keep fighting these fights to secure the rights of black and brown voters, but activists keep fighting because we know our cause is just and necessary. . They continue to call their senators to encourage them to advance voting rights legislation that would have the greatest impact on our democracy. In Texas and Georgia, organizers are continuing voter registration and door-to-door efforts to increase turnout despite new anti-election laws. In cities and counties across the country, democracy advocates are volunteering or showing up to fill vital roles as election officials.

It’s disappointing to see Democratic senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and Republicans who previously supported the Voting Rights Act like the senses. Susan Collins, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn vote against advancing democracy protections that Americans overwhelmingly support. We must hold the 52 senators who blocked the Free Suffrage Act: John R. Lewis accountable for selling out our democracy, and we must also move beyond this moment and continue to push for reforms of all possible ways.

Progress always takes time and effort, but as young Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman said, “While democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be finally defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. Because if we have our eyes turned towards the future, history has its eyes on us.

Make no mistake: the movement to defend and strengthen democracy has accomplished incredible feats of getting landmark suffrage legislation through the House and then demanding that the Senate debate the freedom to vote: the John R. Lewis, and we will continue to persevere until we achieve a free, fair and equal democracy for every American.

Failure is not an option.

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