President Joe Biden met with Civil Rights leaders to discuss the attack on voting rights in states across America. (Courtesy Photo)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor

President Joe Biden is working with Civil Rights leaders and organizations to combat the attacks and threats on voting rights, directly affecting communities of color.

On July 8, Biden met with the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the NAACP’s Legal and Education Defense Fund (LDF), the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), the National Urban League, the National Action Network, the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“The President is meeting with Civil Rights leaders today because he feels there is urgency in determining how we can most effectively work together to move voting rights forward- access to voting rights…forward,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.  “He’s an optimist by nature, or he wouldn’t be President of the United States, so he continues to believe that there should be a pathway for federal legislation.”

“Obstruction, and the fact there is an unwillingness to make voting more accessible to people across the country, is something that he’s mindful of, and he believes and we’ve said before, he could change the conversation in the Senate.  We’ll see what happens, but he will continue to press for federal legislation moving forward,” Psaki added.  

“The President shares desire, commitment and interest in moving forward on voting rights legislation, and moving forward on initiatives across the country that can help make voting more accessible across the country,” Psaki emphasized at the White House press briefing, while the meeting was in session.

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League said he was one of eight Civil Rights leaders who spent about an hour and a half with the President and senior members of his Administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D- Louisiana), Director of Domestic Policy Council of the United States Susan Rice.  He said that the threat to voting rights is a serious issue.

President Joe Biden greets the Rev. Al Sharpton at a meeting with Civil Rights leaders on July 8. (Courtesy Photo)

“We came here at the invitation of the President to underscore the state of emergency that this country faces when it comes to democracy.  Democracy is under vigorous, vicious and sinister attack,”Morial passionately said.  “Beginning with the events of Jan. 6 a the Capitol and cascading like a tsunami through state legislatures across the nation that have a singular intent, which is to suppress, deny and thwart the votes of Black people, Brown people, young people, people who are disabled and many other Americans who live with great disadvantage in this country.  We witnessed an election last fall where 159 million Americans voted. And let me correct the historical record.  It was the highest voter turnout in American history.  You can’t count the 1900 election because women couldn’t vote, you can’t count the 1900 election because Black people were laboring under the burdens of the Grandfather Clause and literacy tests.”

Morial believed the President understood the severity of the attack on voting rights, as Psaki emphasized at the earlier press conference.

“We took time, and the President, I think he shared our great concern about the emergency nature that we face in this country.”

National Action Network President the Rev. Al Sharpton also weighed in on the importance of the meeting with the Biden Administration.

“If we don’t put the street heat on, it won’t happen,” Sharpton said of the referring to the stalled Congressional work on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act. “We informed them this is going to come not from the White House down, but from our houses up.”

Reverend Sharpton emphasized that the Civil Rights leaders will continue working diligently to combat voter suppression.

“We are not going to let them take the right to vote from us, not in our time, not in this generation,” Sharpton said, before explaining that the next couple months will be a “summer of action,” despite legislators being on a Congressional recess. “It’s going to be warmer politically than lawmakers think on the ground.”

The National Urban League president also explained the work he and his fellow Civil Rights leaders have been doing over the past months to combat the attack on voting rights.

“Now for everyone’s benefit, as a group we have worked diligently over the last several months, on behalf of the legislation known as the For the People Act, and what will become the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.  In furtherance of that, we have met with several members of Congress… including with a number of Republican members of the United States Senate,” Morial said. 

“We have and we will not leave any stone unturned to save American democracy.  We will speak with anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances,” he emphasized.

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor