Following is an essay written by Dr. Marvin A. McMickle and published in the Democrat and Chronicle's Unite Rochester blog on March 7, 2015:
I was deeply moved by the speech delivered by President Barack Obama on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama and the battle for voting rights in this country. How remarkable that this country has changed as much as it has in the last 50 years. Those who were born in America in the last 30-35 years cannot imagine the racial practices in this country that were rigidly enforced both by law and by brute force.
They cannot imagine my great-great uncle, Edward Doneghy who was shot and killed at the voter registration office in Danville, Kentucky on November 7,1930 simply because he was a black man attempting to register to vote in the United States of America. It is hard to imagine how this nation moved from the murder of Edward Doneghy to the election and re-election of Barack Obama. That remarkable journey would not have been possible without the events that unfolded on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. However, as President Obama pointed out in his speech today, once again voting rights for all Americans are again under attack. Many states, including North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia, Indiana, and several others immediately established voting restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened key provisions of the very Voting Rights Act that had led to our nation's first African American president.
It is almost as if many of our conservative Republican neighbors seem determined not to let another African American or another progressive politician be elected to our nation's highest office. Of course, the president also noted that far too many Americans, including African Americans fail to vote on Election Day, and in doing so dishonor the memory and the sacrifice of those who bled on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and those who died to gain the right to vote for African Americans and later for women.
The best way to push back against those who want to limit voting rights is to be sure that every person registered to vote does so on every Election Day. Beyond that, pressure must be exerted in states across this country to resist and refuse to accept the changes currently being made regarding the right to vote. The idea that these changes are designed to prevent voter fraud is bogus to the core, since no significant instances of voter fraud have ever been discovered in any of those states. Restrictions in voting rights are not about protecting our democracy; they are about intentionally limiting those who are allowed to participate in our democracy. When you consider restrictions on voting rights along with another U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has allowed unlimited financial contributions to flow into political campaigns from anonymous donors, you can see that democracy itself is under attack.
Just as brave people fought to protect voting rights 50 years ago in Selma, people across America will have to call upon their courage to fight that same battle again today.
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