Clyburn Statement on 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Aug 6, 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (SC) released the following statement on the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965:

“On this day fifty years ago, surrounded by leaders of both political parties, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.  It was a moment worthy of both celebration and reflection.  Today, we stand at a similar crossroads.

“The right to vote is the cornerstone of democracy and the foundation upon which all other rights are built.  Nearly a century after the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which protected the franchise in theory but not in fact, the world watched as peaceful protesters were brutally attacked and beaten by police while marching for voting rights on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.  Just five months later, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, and millions of African Americans were finally able to exercise their right to vote.

“Sadly, in 2015, this fundamental right is under threat yet again.  Two years ago, the Supreme Court gutted a key component of the Voting Rights Act and made it easier for states to discriminate against minority, elderly and disabled Americans by deliberately making it harder for them to exercise their right to vote.  Republican leaders in Congress have thus far refused to take up bipartisan legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, as states continue to erect new barriers to the ballot box. 

“Today, as we celebrate the proud legacy of the Voting Rights Act and reflect on symbolic victories like the furling of the Confederate battle flag in my home state of South Carolina, we must also take substantive action to restore the Voting Rights Act.  I call on my Republican colleagues in Congress to do more than issue statements celebrating the past—I urge them to look to the future and work with us to protect the voting rights of all Americans for the next fifty years and beyond.”