On March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights activists attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge into Montgomery, Alabama. Marchers were met at the bridge by local and state police with billy clubs and tear gas. Tear gas was shot into the crowd and police waded in, beating every individual they could reach. Broadcast around the world, the march became known as Bloody Sunday and suddenly, the ugliness of racism in America was no longer a secret. Just in case you arent a history and civil rights buff, these men and women marched to secure voting rights for every American, regardless of race.
Just 10 days later, on March 17, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson sent The National Voting Rights Act of 1965 to Congress. After the Senate and House passed the bill, and differences were resolved, President Johnson signed the Act into law on August 6, 1965.
The Voting Rights Act outlawed discrimination in voting practices throughout the states (particularly in the South) that disenfranchised African Americans. Southern states had historically required otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests, a practice that excluded blacks and illiterate whites from voting. The Act also provided for pre-clearance, meaning that no state could implement a change to the Act without first gaining approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. Congress has amended and extended the Act several times since 1965, most recently with a 25-year extension signed by President George W. Bush.
Why have I provided this short history lesson? Because sadly, 46 years later, at least 50% (probably higher) of African Americans still dont vote. This is disturbing in light of the years of sacrifice and work done by men and women such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Hosea Williams, John Lewis, Tyrone Brooks, Fannie Lou Hammer, and many others. Not to mention those that lost their lives in the fight for equality.
So I ask of you two things today 1. please register and vote, and 2. take someone with you who would not have voted otherwise.
After all the work over the last decade, wont you do your part? The Informer is not endorsing anyone in this election, just encouraging everyone to vote. You can make a difference in this runoff election. When you go to the polls on August 16th, take someone with you!
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