Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement on the Forty-Ninth Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which finally allowed millions of people of color to participate in the politics of our nation.
But the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder in 2012 eliminated a provision of the Voting Rights Act that required states and municipalities with a history of voting discrimination to obtain preliminary approval for changes in voting laws (referred to as "preclearance.") Since then, dozens of states have reintroduced restrictions on voting to disenfranchise people of color, such as voter identification laws, limited access to absentee ballots, redrawn electoral districts, changes in polling sites, and the elimination of early voting.
"Almost a half-century after the Voting Rights Act established that every American has the right to vote, our generation has a responsibility to protect that right from the threat of politicians who want to prevent our participation in government," said Congresswoman Clarke, who has worked her colleagues in the House of Representatives to restore the preclearance requirement. "My colleague, the Honorable John Lewis of Georgia, marched in Selma, Alabama to protect the right to vote, an act of nonviolent protest for which he was brutally beaten. Today, we must uphold that legacy."