Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams called on Americans to undertake urgent action to protect the democratic process in the United States this weekend, as Republicans in state legislatures around the country continue their efforts to implement suppressive new election restrictions. Saturday — when Abrams issued her message — was what’s known as Juneteenth, which is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and the soldiers under his command brought the news of what was known as General Order No. 3 to Texas, proclaiming the freeing of all slaves. Texas was one of the last holdouts where slavery persisted as the Civil War ended.
This year, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, providing a more formalized opportunity to celebrate historical advancements of human rights and look to the path ahead. On Saturday, Abrams commented on Twitter as follows:
‘This #Juneteenth, we celebrate the emancipation of Black Americans & reflect on their activism pushing our nation towards its founding ideals. From the ballot box to housing, employment, & more — we must continue working for equal justice. The march towards freedom continues.’
This #Juneteenth, we celebrate the emancipation of Black Americans & reflect on their activism pushing our nation towards its founding ideals.
From the ballot box to housing, employment, & more — we must continue working for equal justice. The march towards freedom continues. pic.twitter.com/YM78UP8DG2
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) June 19, 2021
Alongside others, Abrams has been advocating for the passage of voting rights protections in Congress, where bills including the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act have been proposed. At present, the Senate’s filibuster rules pose a problem for the passage of either piece of legislation, because the rules demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward, including to a final vote, on most legislation. Republicans under the leadership of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) haven’t exactly proven inclined towards bipartisan cooperation, so this procedural demand for at least some level of bipartisan agreement has proven difficult to fulfill.
Bizarrely, prominent Republicans have often singled out Abrams for heated criticism, although she has simply been participating in the U.S. political process as every other American has the right to do. Are voter registration drives — like have been part of Abrams’s advocacy efforts — really that controversial? At least some of the GOP’s targeting of her seems to have racist overtones, considering she is Black.