Here's the message we sent to our members. After you’ve read it, please add your voice.
Dear ColorOfChange.org member,
Just hours ago, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder that gutted a signature achievement of the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, placing millions of people of color, women and young people at the mercy of a dysfunctional Congress.
While I was hoping that the Supreme Court would do the right thing, after hearing the arguments, it's hard to be shocked at today's result. Justice Scalia even described the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act as “the perpetuation of a racial entitlement.” Since it was uttered from Scalia’s lips, that phrase — “racial entitlement” — has lingered in my mind for months now.
For Black people, voting has never been an entitlement, it is a freedom that has been earned through extraordinary sacrifice. But because the freedom to vote is not explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution, conservative state legislators have been attacking that very freedom in states across the country.
Without an amendment guaranteeing the freedom to vote, each state sets its own electoral rules, leading to confusing and sometimes contradictory policies with regard to polling hours, registration requirements, voting equipment, ex-felon rights and even ballot design. The result is an electoral system divided — separate and unequal.
For decades the Voting Rights Act has protected voters in pockets of the country with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices blocking more than 1,500 voting laws aimed at making it harder for us to vote. Just this past election, it allowed the Justice Department to block attempts by politicians in Texas, South Carolina and Florida to manipulate the voter rolls. Now that the Court has overturned Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, previously protected states such as these are now in limbo.
Current right-wing efforts to make it harder for people to vote are not bound by geography or a history of racial discrimination — they are widespread, targeted and coordinated. And when you really begin to dig into the types of right-wing voter suppression bills that are spreading across the country — discriminatory Voter ID laws, proof of citizenship requirements, laws that prevent groups like the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote from organizing registration drives, attempts to purge people with ethnic names from the rolls, and limits to weekend voting hours in urban communities — it is clear that far-right politicians are trying to keep the rising American majority of young people, women and people of color away from the polls.
Shifting attitudes and demographics demand a new approach to protecting the freedom to vote. We have to stop playing defense and work to enact bold change to expand the freedom to vote.
The Voting Rights Act was the result of decades of hard work, advocacy, protests and marches, and courage before fire hoses and police dogs. It was one of the crowning achievements of a generation.
The road to a constitutional amendment for the freedom to vote is similarly long and paved with obstacles. This is no ordinary campaign, but one that will require years of hard work to win.
Let's keep rising together and ensure every American has the freedom to vote.
Thanks and Peace,
Executive Director, ColorOfChange.org