The Voting Rights Act (VRA), one of the most significant and successful pieces of civil rights legislation ever passed in the United States, was signed into law 55 years ago today. In response, Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-chairs Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN) and Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), who both served for many years with the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), released the following statement:
“The Voting Rights Act was a monumental achievement that helped our nation get closer to the ideals on which it was founded — but did not fairly apply — by protecting every American’s sacred right to the ballot box. It was won because of the struggle and sacrifice of countless men and women who insisted on fighting for justice.
“But there is work to be done. Voters of color, especially Black voters, still experience major systemic barriers to voting. The Supreme Court’s 2013 gutting of key provisions in the VRA has only served to exacerbate these inequalities.
“This is an especially poignant anniversary given the recent passing of two titans of the civil rights era, Rep. John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian. Congress should pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act — an apt tribute not only to a great man, but to the ideals to which he dedicated his life. The VRA has long seen bipartisan support, and was last authorized under President George W. Bush. This is about creating a better America and a more perfect union.
“We face an unprecedented challenge this November to ensure all Americans can access their right to vote. In keeping with the legacy of all who have worked to protect this fundamental right, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Rosa Parks to the millions of everyday Americans who stood up for what’s right, Congress needs to give states the resources they need to hold safe, secure, and fair elections.”