Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, was interviewed on MSNBC at a protest yesterday in front of the US Supreme Court as it considered striking down section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Barber later released this statement:
When this nation began, the right to vote was denied to women, poor whites and African Americans. In 1870, after a bloody civil war, the 15h Amendment was ratified which provided: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
In 1872, only a few years after the First Reconstruction was put in place, white supremacists, fearing a new political reality, attacked our ancestor’s new voting rights violently and unconstitutionally. By 1900, black voting in the south was virtually wiped out.
During the Second Reconstruction, the modern Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s, blacks and whites and others came together to change this nation again. Together, our parents’ generation moved the moral arc of history toward justice again. White supremacists, fearing a new political reality, organized as Dixiecrats and attacked our voting rights violently. They argued states’ rights because they feared the Supreme Court had begun to enforce the 15th Amendment. It was then they started their modern Southern Strategy to make the south an unbreakable solid block for their ultra-conservative, regressive political ideology.
Now, ten days before the anniversary of Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama, we come to the Supreme Court. We are pleased to announce there are changing demographics in the south. A new fusion politics is emerging in North Carolina and other southern areas. Blacks, whites, Latinos, the young and the elderly working and voting together. A Third Reconstruction is starting. New political alignments are being formed. The Solid South is cracking.
We are here to announce Section Five of the Voting Rights Act has just begun to bear fruit. We are on the threshold of the goals of the Voting Rights Act which would change our nation like some have never wanted to see it changed. They know the only way to stop this change, is to stop our vote. The only way are voter ID schemes. The only way is to roll back preclearance. The only way is to implement race-based redistricting schemes. They know they cannot do all of this as long as Section Five of the Voting Rights Act is in the way. The Koch brothers’ money won’t work as long as Section Five is in the way. Rush Limbaugh’s lies won’t work as long as Section Five is in the way.
James Crow Esquire, with his computer in the back room drawing illegal lines of voting districts, to stack, pack, bleach and undermine the power and potential of the black vote united with other progressives won’t work as long as Section Five is in the way. They want to cheat so bad, but Section Five is in the way.
So their goal is to remove preclearance. To clear the way for an all-out attack on voting rights. To stop America and democracy from moving forward.
So we must say not on our watch!
Not after all the blood that’s been shed!
Not after the marches that have been marched! Not after the struggles that have been endured! Not after the pain that has been inflicted!
Not after the tears that have been shed!
Not after the dreams that have been deferred! Not on our watch!
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