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Voting rights has been one of America’s most arduous fought battles in the pursuit of unfettered democratic equality. This weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Alabama to commemorate the 57th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the day in 1965 when White police maliciously attacked Black voting rights marchers.
Harris will also take part in the annual event’s symbolic march across the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Several other members of President Joe Biden’s administration will also attend the voting rights event, including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan.
Though speeches on the importance of voting rights will be given and their purpose fulfilled, this symbolic gesture will do little more than remind voters and Black folks of the sacrifices our elders once made juxtaposed with the inability of our current Administration to exhibit the same courage and leadership.
The House passed its version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in August 2021 in a party-line vote. In the Senate, Joe Manchin of West Virginia is the only Democrat to not sign on as a co-sponsor, although he previously expressed support. The Senate voted 50-49 to pass the bill, falling well short of the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster.
Voting Rights is a Right to All.
“That not passing is one of the greatest disappointments I felt in 48 years,” U.S. Senator Parick Leahy said of the Senate’s failure to exempt the bill from its filibuster rules and vote the bill up or down.
“John Lewis was one of my best friends,” Leahy said, noting how honored he was that Lewis appeared with him at the Flynn Theater in Burlington. “He was a man of soul and conscience,” he added. “I want to keep fighting until the day I leave the Senate to get it passed.”
Passing The John Lewis Act would tangibly change the procedures and likely outcomes of elections, making them more accessible for all as dozens of states seek to make it harder to access voting rights.