In today’s Democratic Radio Address, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., urged Congress to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.
In the weekly Democratic radio address, Lewis said his party is committed to strengthening the sections of the law that are set to expire at the end of next year.
Conservatives are pushing for modification of two provisions. One requires nine states, mostly in the South, to get federal approval before changing voting rules. The other requires election officials to provide voting material in the native language to immigrant voters who don’t speak English.
“Our democracy depends on protecting the right of every American citizen to vote in every election,” Lewis said.
Lewis participated in the Southern civil rights struggles of the 1960s that secured congressional passage of the Voting Rights Act.
“We were beaten, tear gassed and trampled by horses,” said Lewis, recounting a March 7, 1965, march in Alabama that drew attention to the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson.
The black Vietnam veteran was shot as he attempted to protect his mother, who was beaten by police during a civil rights march.
The Voting Rights Act came at a time when it was “almost impossible for people of color to register to vote” because of poll taxes and literacy tests, Lewis said.
NOTE TO DNC: The text of the Democratic Radio Address should be made available every Saturday on Democrats.org. There is a nice little section there just for the Democratic Radio Address, but it is not getting updated.