In a press release by US Vice President Kamala Harris Sunday outlined the importance of voting rights on the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, as President Biden is set to visit the town.
In the statement, Harris outlined the importance behind this historic event, where 600 individuals took part in a peaceful march to secure the right to vote. However, this demonstration was met with “crushing violence” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Speaking on this day, Harris noted that:
Their courage and their sacrifice inspired many to join the fight for civil rights—to put an end to poll taxes, literacy tests, and other forms of discrimination that blocked Black Americans’ access to the ballot box. They achieved passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which enshrined critical protections for voting rights in federal law.
However, she went on to acknowledge the 2013 Shelby County Supreme Court ruling which weakened the Voting Rights Act, making it “harder to protect against discrimination. As a result, in recent years, America has seen a new assault on the freedom to vote.” This assault has involved extremists working to close polling locations, even making it a crime to provide water to people standing in line. In response, Harris urged that:
We must redouble our efforts and renew our commitment to protecting the freedom to vote. President Joe Biden and I continue to call on Congress to pass federal legislation that protects voting rights, election integrity, and our democracy. And we will continue to implement the President’s Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting, which enhances the federal government’s efforts to advance voter participation.
Harris concluded by emphasizing that fighting to secure and safeguard voting rights is a way of honoring the legacy of those who marched in Selma on Bloody Sunday.