Civil Rights Leaders Reflect on the 57th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday
Washington, D.C. (March 6, 2022) – Leading civil rights organizations issued the following joint statement to reflect on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday and to urge Congress to remain focused on protecting the fundamental right to vote for the American people:
“As thousands gather in Selma, Alabama for the 57th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, we are reminded that our right to vote–the right that sparked the infamous march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the right that Americans were beaten and died for–is still under assault.
“President Biden made it clear during his State of the Union address that in order to ensure our right to vote is protected and counted, Congress must do everything in its power to pass the protections that were included in the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, which would:
- Restore Section 5 preclearance formula under the Voting Rights Act that stops discriminatory voting changes before they are implemented;
- Restore the vitality of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to remedy vote denial or dilution of the right to vote for people of color;
- Adopt common-sense safe and secure measures to expand voting access like early voting, same-day voter registration, and Election Day as federal holiday; and
- Address the inequities in our voting system by allowing for early voting, automatic voter registration, and increased access for individuals with disabilities.
“Although these bills are designed to address racial discrimination in voting, they will also benefit Americans of all races, ages, ethnicities, and political affiliations. Now more than ever, the need for federal legislative intervention could not be more urgent. We call on every member of Congress to put partisanship aside and defend our Constitutional right to a safe and fair electoral process.
“States across the country have passed dozens of voter suppression laws. In Alabama, 23 bills have been introduced that would allow for excessive voter purging, permit racial and partisan gerrymandering, and encourage voter intimidation, and implement stricter voter I.D. requirements. Just last month, the United States Supreme Court allowed Alabama to implement a redistricting plan that would limit the voting power of communities of color. There is a shameful, anti-democratic effort being undertaken by partisan state legislatures to impede and restrict our most vulnerable populations from voting. These cynical efforts to preserve political power at all costs are a threat to our democracy and need to be challenged directly and undeniably.
“Without congressional action, legislatures in states like Alabama will continue to threaten our democracy by limiting access to the ballot. As civil rights leaders, we will never stop fighting to preserve and defend the right to vote–the one generations before us have bled and died for right here in Selma. Our democracy is at a crossroads and the time has come for Congress to do the right thing.”
This statement was signed by the following organizations:
- National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial
- The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, interim President and CEO, Wade Henderson
- Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, President and Executive Director, Damon Hewitt
- National Action Network President and Founder Reverend Al Sharpton
- NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson
- National Council of Negro Women Executive Director Janice L. Mathis
- National Coalition on Black Civic Participation/Black Women’s Roundtable President and CEO Melanie Campbell
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill