This weekend, on the first anniversary of the death of Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis, President Joe Biden reiterated his calls for Congress to pass new federal protections for voting rights. Specifically, Biden — like other Democratic leaders — is advocating on behalf of bills including the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would each support voting rights in their own way. The For the People Act has already been filibustered by Senate Republicans but could be brought up again, while the other legislation is scheduled for consideration by the Senate later this year.
The For the People Act contains a broad range of provisions that would make voting in federal elections more accessible, while the bill named after the late Congressman would re-impose a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That restored guideline would require pre-approval by federal authorities ahead of the implementation of certain changes to the conducting of elections, with an underlying hope of stopping voter suppression before it can start. The threat posed by suppressive election restrictions that Republicans have been pushing is serious. The restrictions don’t respond to any actual, documented problem involving systematic election integrity issues. They just make it more difficult to vote.
Biden commented as follows:
‘For all the historic progress we have made as a nation to beat this pandemic and repair and rebuild the economy, we know there is more work to do to deliver the promise of America to all Americans… Perhaps most of all, [that] means continuing the cause that John was willing to give his life for: protecting the sacred right to vote. Not since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s have we seen such unrelenting attacks on voting rights and the integrity of our elections – from the Big Lie to the insurrection on January 6th to the new waves of voter suppression and a new front of election subversion.’
Biden also called on observers to “forge a coalition of Americans of every background and political party — advocates, students, faith leaders, labor leaders, business executives — and raise the urgency of this moment,” adding that for “We the People, for our democracy, for America itself – we must act.” Notably, Biden also insisted that those involved in the struggle “must never, ever give up.” Read his full remarks at this link.
Lewis was part of efforts like the “Freedom Rides,” which consisted of a bus journey across the South involving Black and white folks together. Those involved in the efforts, including Lewis, were repeatedly violently assaulted for their nonviolent stand against segregation. Later on, Lewis — among many other efforts — also assisted with the organization of the March on Washington where, alongside other featured speakers including Lewis himself, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.