Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri urged an overflow audience at his Voting Rights Symposium to stand up and oppose widespread voter suppression efforts that could disenfranchise millions of legally registered American voters. At the forum, which was held at historic Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, the Congressman warned that, "Nothing in our constitution is more fundamental than the right to vote. Across this country, in 38 states, that right is under assault.Up to five million registered voters are at risk of being disenfranchised. Right here in Missouri, our Secretary of State reports that 254,000 registered voters are at risk of being turned away from the polls because they lack a government-issued photo ID. Another 100,000 Missouri voters have expired photo IDs. And that's just a small example of what is happening across this country."
In a stirring keynote address, Reverend Al Sharpton, President & CEO of the National Action Network and the host of MSNBC's PoliticsNation said,"Decades ago, African-Americans battled "Jim Crow'' laws aimed at keeping us from the polls. Now, we're fighting 'James S. Crow Jr. Esquire.' He talks in a more refined way but the result is the same."
The forum also featured expert panelists including Congressional Black Caucus Chairman, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D) Missouri; Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D) Wisconsin; NAACP Chief Legal Counsel Kim Keenan; Advancement Project Senior Attorney Denise Lieberman; DNC Counsel and Director of Voter Protection Will Crossley; Missouri State Representative Stacey Newman; Missouri State Representative Steve Webb; and Missouri State Representative Tishaura Jones. The event was moderated by Ray Hartmann, founder of theRiverfront Timesand CEO of St. Louis Magazine.