Mon. 7/20: In honor of John Lewis. “Wake up, America, wake up! For we cannot stop, and we will not be patient.”

We are one people; we are only family. And when we finally accept these truths, then we will be able to fulfill Dr. King’s dream to build a beloved community, a nation, and a world at peace with itself.” – John Lewis. Great photo essay her)

Action #1: Rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after Rep. John Lewis.

Sign this petition to Governor Kay Ivey. Almost half a million have signed on by this morning.

It’s far past time to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon that nearly gave his life on that bridge,” said Michael Starr Hopkins. “Edmund Pettus was a bitter racist, (Confederate general and leader in the Alabama Ku Klux Klan), undeserving of the honor bestowed upon him. As we wipe away this country’s long stain of bigotry, we must also wipe away the names of men like Edmund Pettus.”

The Edmund Pettus Bridge, now a National Historic Landmark, was the site of the brutal Bloody Sunday beatings of civil rights marchers during the first march for voting rights. The televised attacks were seen all over the nation, prompting public support for the civil rights activists in Selma and for the voting rights campaign. After Bloody Sunday, protestors were granted the right to continue marching, and two more marches for voting rights followed.”

Action #2: Senate – Pass  H.R.4 – Voting Rights Advancement Act and rename it as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act!

This is the cause he spent his life working on and was literally willing to give his life for. And if any of the 186 yahoos who  voted “NO” to this most basic of American rights are YOUR legislators, do all you can to ensure that they don’t return after November 3.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Senator [___] to do whatever is necessary to get H.R. 4 /S.561 – the Voting Rights Advancement Act passed, as well as renaming it in honor of Rep. John Lewis.

Senator-check:  (Both Feinstein and Harris are already on for the Senate version S. 561. Thank them and ask them to push this through.)

Contact:
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?: hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com 

Deeper Dive

Why is H.R. 4 necessary? Because +40 years wasn’t long enough: A 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), which had required certain states with a history of voter suppression to pre-clear any new election procedures. The court’s majority decided that since +40 years had passed, the states involved must have magically outgrown their racist past, throwing it back to Congress to come up with new criteria to judge voting malfeasance, or for communities to sue. The justices were immediately proven wrong about the persistence of racism, of course, as nearly two-dozen GOP-controlled states implemented restrictive voter ID laws that targeted minorities. “Pre-clearance states reverted to their previous shenanigans, manipulating access and numbers of polling places, shortened early voting and other measures that targeted minority voters.

H.R. 4 restores the VRA’s oversight function of voting rights violations that was removed by SCOTUS by establishing criteria for use by the Department of Justice. For example, jurisdictions meeting certain thresholds regarding racial minority groups, language minority groups, or minority groups on Indian land, must automatically preclear before implementing new rules. This excellent letter in support of H.R. 4 by the League of Women Voters clearly lays out the main improvements the law would bring to ensuring fairness, access, and transparency to the voting process for all Americans.

Says Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chairman Joaquin Castro,“I’m proud to support H.R.4, which would restore a critical Voting Rights Act protection by requiring states with recent history of voter discrimination seek federal preclearance for election charges, and in doing so, prevent voter suppression, make elections more transparent and ensure all Americans, regardless of their zip code or skin color, have a voice in our democracy. This is not a partisan issue. As Americans, we must ensure the integrity of the robust democracy our Founding Fathers envisioned for our nation.

Action #3: Call them out! 

Minimum message (Call or postcard): Please tell [Rep./Sen.___] to remove any of [his/her] hypocritical and self-serving tweets or emails in honor of Rep. John Lewis. History will remember [his/her] racist actions over [his/her] words, actions which have repeatedly dishonored this great man and his American dream of justice for all. Hold [his/her] own back-patting ceremony until [he/she] finally does something to deserve it. PASS H.R. 4! 

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, tweeted that lawmakers who stood against issues that were dear to Lewis, particularly related to voting rights and protesting white supremacy, were not honoring the lawmaker.”

Gov. Brian Kemp, the master vote-suppressor of Georgia.

Contact: (404) 656-1776, 206 Washington Street, Suite 203, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA30334

(Slate) “As Georgia’s secretary of state, Kemp was at the forefront of a national GOP-led movement to make voting more difficult, from championing photo ID laws to prosecuting residents on specious claims of voter fraud. Kemp directed the removal of 1.5 million voters from the state rolls from 2012 to 2016, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice.

While running for governor in 2018 but still serving as secretary of state, Kemp purged the state’s voter rolls in a move that mostly impacted Black voters. Lewis found the conflict of interest so egregious that he called on Kemp to resign. “Brian Kemp is actively abusing the power of his office to make it more difficult for Georgians to vote,” Lewis said then. “His actions make it impossible for voters to trust that this election will be administered in a fair and impartial way.” Kemp eventually prevailed over Stacey Abrams, his Democratic opponent, in the election. He gets to call Lewis a hero from the governor’s mansion.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy – I’m only here for the photo-op!

Contact: (202) 225-2915, 2468 Rayburn House office Building, Washington DC, 20515

(Slate) “When Lewis was co-sponsor of a bill to renew portions of the Voting Rights Act in December, McCarthy and all but one of his Republican members voted against it. As recently as April, McCarthy blasted voting by mail as dangerous for the country and said the system involves “a lot of fraud” while offering no evidence for the claim.

Cato Institute – Seriously?

Contact: Share this on your social media!

An alert twitter commenter stated: I reported this Cato tweet for misrepresenting an elected official and I’d urge everyone to do the same.  (The Cato Institute is a Koch-funded libertarian group.)

Mitch McConnell – the final betrayer.

Contact: ((202) 224-2541, Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

In August 1965,  McConnell, a law student, was invited to a ceremony to witness then-president Lyndon B. Johnson sign the Voting Rights Act. He thought the legislative accomplishment was important for its bipartisan support, not for improving voting access for Black communities. “On issues of great national significance, one party should never simply force its will on everybody else,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2015. However, he used that occassion to craft a profile as supporter of civil rights legislation. and that he’d even attended the March on Washington in 1963, where Lewis was the youngest featured speaker.

But by 2007, the gloves were off. McConnell proposed an amendment to a immigration bill that would have required all voters show photo identification. In support of Shelby v. Holder,  he agreed with the erroneous decision. “It’s been a big success. It’s worked… It’s important to understand how different the South is now. America has come a long way.”

Hahahaha. No. Lewis, almost cried when Justice Antonin Scalia compared the VRA to a “racial entitlement.”

(Slate) “In many ways, McConnell’s betrayal was what kept Lewis working in his final years. “In December 2019, Lewis presided over the House as it passed legislation to restore and modernize the Voting Rights Act, requiring states with a long history of voting discrimination to once again get federal approval for any changes to voting procedures,” Berman writes. “In a primary season marred by voting problems, like six-hour lines in Lewis’ home state of Georgia, it’s been sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk for 225 days.”

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