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Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Representing the 3rd District of Ohio

Work to improve voting rights

Feb 29, 2016
News Articles

This article was published in the Columbus Dispatch on February 29, 2016.

Work to improve voting rights

As Black History Month closes, I am reminded of Martin Luther King Jr., who famously said, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”

We have come a long way since the era of Jim Crow. Indeed, our nation has laws on the books protecting people from discrimination based on sex, age, race, religion, national origin and ethnicity. Moreover, each February, we collectively reflect on the important contributions and accomplishments African-Americans etched into the cornerstone of America.

Yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same. What do I mean?

Every year, without fail, we celebrate Black History Month and honor the many leaders, heroes and "sheroes" of the black community. However, we rarely discuss the systemic and pervasive barriers still preventing African-Americans from achieving the American Dream.

Our nation is still plagued by the vestiges of segregation and unequal laws and policies. Today, it is more difficult to exercise one’s constitutional right to vote, not easier. Inequalities in access to quality health care still exist between races, and more and more black children are victim to failing schools.

As opposed to getting bogged down in the numbers and reciting a long list of statistics and historical grievances, I am calling on all people, including our community and national leaders, to join me in working to eliminate voter suppression and to restore what so many people fought, marched and died for: the Voting Rights Act.

It is up to all of us to protect the most at-risk among us, to defend the foundation of our democracy and to expand opportunity for all people. It begins with the Voting Rights Act.

In Congress, I am working tirelessly to rebuild the very foundation of the Voting Rights Act undone by the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision. As an original cosponsor of the Voting Rights Empowerment Act of 2015 (H.R. 12), I believe we must ensure every American has equal say and the opportunity to vote. This legislation would do just that by expanding access and putting in place common sense protections for our nation’s electorate, no matter the color of one’s skin.

It takes a village. So, let’s work together in our neighborhood, at work or with family and friends to make this change possible and to help guarantee every American has fair and equal access to the ballot box.

Black History Month should be about the progress that has been made and the journey that awaits us. Remember, the past is our experience, the present is our accountability and the future is our responsibility.

Rep. Joyce Beatty

Congressional District 3