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HISTORY, WORDS AND ACTIONS MATTER

August 8, 2015

Business, Education, Feature, Opinion, Trends

Beenetworknews History, Words and Actions Matter segment is for those individuals who may or may not be aware of this nation’s complete  history, understand the power of words, or the actions powered by the intentional misuse of words.  Issues surrounding  the Confederacy, African-Americans and the Justice System,  the U.S. Constitution or Unjust Policies all contribute to the civility and tolerance we show toward one another.  Many forget that as a democracy Americans must stand united to defend against threats from outside and inside its borders.  In addition, they  fail to remember that prejudice, bigotry, sexism or intolerance from within will not only divided us but surely contribute to our demise as a nation.

NOTE:  Some of the words and video content in HWAM articles may be too explicit and offensive to some adults and children.  Please be advised!

SOURCE:  The White House

A brief history of the Voting Rights Act

Until the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870, African-American men did not have the constitutional right to vote. (African-American women did not gain the right to vote until passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, when all women obtained this right). But even with this constitutional right, many states prevented African-Americans from enjoying the benefits of full citizenship through laws known as Jim Crow laws.

To prevent African-Americans from voting, many states enacted legislation that erected barriers to voting — such as literacy tests, moral character tests, property ownership requirements, and poll taxes.  Although many of these laws were “colorblind” on their face, they were designed specifically to exclude African-American citizens by allowing white election officials to apply the procedures selectively.  Read more.

SOURCE:  The White House

Every year, I head back to the birthplace of a new America — Selma, Alabama — where a determined struggle for voting rights transformed our democracy 50 years ago.

On March 7, 1965, Hosea Williams and I led a band of silent witnesses, 600 nonviolent crusaders, intending to march 50 miles to Montgomery — Alabama’s capital — to demonstrate the need for voting rights in America.

At the foot of the bridge, we were met by Alabama state troopers who trampled peaceful protestors with horses and shot tear gas into the crowd. I was hit on the head with a nightstick and suffered a concussion on the bridge.

I thought that was going to be my last demonstration. I thought I might die that day.

Learn more about the Voting Rights Act.

John Lewis and other peaceful protesters clash with state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, March 7, 1965. Photo Courtesy: The White House

 

We knew the dangers that lay ahead, but we marched anyway hoping to usher in a more fair society — a place where every American would be able to freely exercise their constitutional right to vote, and each of us would have an equal voice in the democratic process.

We knew that standing up for our rights could be a death warrant. But we felt it would be better to die than to live with injustice.

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, it was a great day. The Act made the ballot box immediately more accessible to millions of Americans of every race, gender, region, economic status, and national origin. It has been called the most effective legislation of the last 50 years.

But just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck a blow at the heart of the Voting Rights Act, nullifying a key provision that had curbed discriminatory voting rules and statutes from becoming law. As soon as the Court’s decision was announced, states began implementing restrictive voting laws.

While some states are changing laws to increase the number of Americans who are able to participate in our democracy, by increasing early voting days and making it easier for people to cast a ballot, far too many states are passing new laws that make it harder and more difficult to vote.

Early voting and voter registration drives have been restricted. Same-day voting has been eliminated in some cases. Strict photo identification laws have been adopted, and improper purges of the voting rolls are negating access to thousands, perhaps millions, who have voted for decades.

That’s why people are still marching for this cause today. Even as we speak, the NAACP is leading a 40-day, 40-night march from Selma to Washington, D.C. in support of a number of issues, including the issue of voting rights.

As citizens, it is our duty to make sure that our political process remains open to every eligible voter, and that every citizen can freely participate in the democratic process.

And when it comes time to get out and vote — we have to do so. The right to vote is the most powerful nonviolent, trans-formative tool we have in a democracy, and the least we can do is take full advantage of the opportunity to make our voices heard.

Despite the challenges, I am still hopeful — but we must remain determined. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each and every one of us, each generation, must do our part to help create a more perfect union.

Keep marching on.

John Lewis
Member of Congress

SOURCE:  The White House

The President Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Published on Aug 6, 2015

President Obama delivered remarks to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act in the South Court Auditorium at the White House. August 6, 2015.

SOURCE:  The White House

Congressman John Lewis and Melissa Harris-Perry Talk About Voting Rights

Published on Aug 6, 2015

Congressman John Lewis and MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry have a conversation on the Voting Rights Act, in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, August 6, 2015.

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SOURCE:  The Library of Congress

15th Amendment to the Constitution

The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African-American men the right to vote by declaring that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Although ratified on February 3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African-Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African-Americans in the South were registered to vote.  Read more.

Photo Courtesy: Library of Congress.

Photo Courtesy: Library of Congress.

SOURCE:  MCamericanpresident

President Lyndon Johnson – Speech on Voting Rights

Uploaded on Jun 13, 2008

View the full speech here: http://millercenter.org/scripps/archi…

Johnson states that every man should have the right to vote and that the civil rights problems challenge the entire country, not one region or group. The President asks Congress to help him pass legislation that dictates clear, uniform guidelines for voting regardless of race or ethnicity and that allows all citizens to register to vote free from harassment.

SOURCE: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s report to the American People on Civil Rights, June 11, 1963

Published on Jun 11, 2014

From the Oval Office, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy delivers an address following the forced desegregation of the University of Alabama. The President proposes the Civil Rights Act

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