On Anniversary Of Voting Rights Act, Poor People’s Campaign, Black Civic Groups Condemn Mcconnell’s Obstructionism

On the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival and Black civic organizations representing millions of people worldwide announced a covenant to resurrect the protections of the Voting Rights Act and condemn Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s seven-year campaign to obstruct equal access to the ballot.

The campaign announced Thursday is a historic partnership joining arm-in-arm with The National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc.; the Black Women’s Agenda Inc.; The Links Incorporated; the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute and the United Supreme Council of Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdictions-United States. The groups pledge to raise an unprecedented, united battle cry for immediate congressional action to protect the fundamental right to vote.

The members of this historic alliance commit to bringing the full force of their collective power to fight to immediately resurrect the full protections of the Voting Rights Act and condemn McConnell’s deliberate obstruction.

In the following joint statement released Thursday, The National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc. — including the Council of Presidents of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity,Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. — announced its reason for joining in partnership:

“Our work is not done in the battle for equality, justice, and a voice in our democracy. Our work is as important today as at any time in our long history as organizations. Delay and lies by those in positions of power will no longer be tolerated. A new battle for the soul of our country is upon us. It is our duty and our right to demand action to restore the power of the Voting Rights Act and restore dignity to the ballot box in homage to not just the Honorable John Robert Lewis, but the generations of our people who have died demanding recognition of our political voice and our right to determine the policies that govern our lives.

For more than seven years, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has led a disgraceful obstruction campaign to prevent reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. While Majority Leader McConnell refused to act, across the nation, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County, gutting the Voting Rights Acts protections, our communities have fended off unrelenting assaults on our right to access the ballot, including discriminatory voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, unlawful voter challenges, voter misinformation, and intimidation, mass polling place closures, voter purging, and voter suppression schemes dedicated to diminishing or denying the political power and vote of Black voters in this country. We declare, on this anniversary, that the seven-year season of voter suppression ends today.”

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, said:

“Voter suppression is racism. When the vote is suppressed, it may target Black, brown, and indigenous people, but it allows people to get elected who then use their political power to block living wages, healthcare and social uplift programs for all people regardless of their race. To fight poverty, we must fight the actions of Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mconnell to block restoring and expanding the Voting Rights Act.”

Rev. Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson, executive director of the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington, said:

“Without the resurrection of the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, we are living in an impoverished democracy that does not truly represent its inhabitants and that cannot represent the dreams and promise of America. We will not stop our united battle until this Congress meets its obligation, morally and constitutionally, to renew federal protections for the people suffering under the weight of its shameful policies of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and militarism. The Poor People’s Campaign understands this truth that today we say to the world: these policies that are killing the people of America are enabled only by the coordinated reign of federal obstruction and waves of brazen voter suppression aimed at keeping the obstructionists in power. The greatest promise of America is on the other side of this fight for the right to vote, and together, we will be there to see it realized.”

Dr. Everett Ward, chair of the NPHC Council of Presidents and general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., said:

“In honor of the legacy of the freedom fighters who called this country to never again deny equal, unfettered access to the sacred right to vote, we will not be silent and we will not be silenced. On this sacred day, we stand in covenant together with a single-minded purpose worthy of the battle and the generations of clouds of witnesses who have marched this path before us. The protections of the Voting Rights Act must be renewed now. Not a single day should go by without the country demanding this single act be done in the spirit of furthering justice. Together, we will ensure that this will be our legacy.”

Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D., national president of The Links, Incorporated, said:

“For too long, African Americans, and women in particular, have had to wait for access and permission to be heard without harm. As members of The Links, Incorporated and gatekeepers of our communities, we can no longer allow the power of our voices to be silenced by tactics and individuals who are afraid of a fair fight. As we prepare for one of the most important and historical elections of our lifetime, it is imperative that the nation’s leaders fully restore the Voting Rights Act. It is our right to have unfettered access to the purest form of democracy – voting. This IS the course of action that is integral in ‘Transforming Communities ~ Fulfilling Our Purpose’.”

Gwainevere Catchings Hess, president of The Black Women’s Agenda Inc., said:

“We together, are those people called for this time, and this fight — the fight to restore the Voting Rights Act is only the tip of the spear. Deliberate inaction may be as evil and immoral as actions, and that is the case here, as we have lived for more than seven years in this nation without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. This reauthorization must be done, and it will be done. Our greatest mistake will be demanding too little in such a time as this. The greatest mistake of the people currently in power will be to underestimate the will, ingenuity and determination of this generations’ commitment to full Black political power and to the freedom and sovereignty guaranteed by our ancestors, by our Constitution, and by our Creator.”