Civil rights groups call on Senate to take immediate action on suffrage

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kiren Marshall, Leaders’ Conference on Civil and Human Rights, [email protected]
Angelo Greco, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation/Black Women’s Roundtable, 917-499-2688, [email protected]
Lacy Crawford, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 202-558-7900, [email protected]
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), 212-965-2200, [email protected]
Marc Banks, NAACP, 443-608-4073, [email protected]
Tkeban XT Jahannes, National Council of Black Women, 404-944-1615, [email protected]
Niambé Tomlinson, National Urban League, 202-629-5750, [email protected]
Rachel Noerdlinger, National Action Network, [email protected]

WASHINGTON — Leading civil rights organizations released the following joint statement urging senators to be on the right side of history and pass the Free Suffrage Act: John R. Lewis:

“History will judge senators for what they do to protect the right to vote, not for obscure rules. The Freedom to Vote Act: John R. Lewis will ensure that voters across the country can vote freely and safely. Every senator who chooses obstruction over protecting our freedom to vote contributes to the downfall of our democracy. Their legacy and our legacy as a country are at stake. Senators are elected to vote, not to hide behind procedural rules while our voting rights are under attack. Fake excuses are unacceptable.

“The right to vote is our most fundamental right and it is the right on which all our other rights are based. People have died to obtain and protect this precious right. Democracy cannot exist without our full participation. We cannot tolerate barriers to voting for people of color, veterans, people with disabilities, rural voters, new Americans, seniors, or youth. We cannot tolerate attempts to remove local election officials or harass them to prevent them from counting every vote. Instead, we must step forward and protect the voice and vote of every American.

“We are especially disappointed with senators from both parties who have supported changing Senate rules for economic issues, but who are unwilling to do so for the most critical issue facing our nation: protecting the right to vote. These senators are either misguided or dishonest in their motives. We are also disappointed with senators who have supported suffrage legislation in the past but refuse to do so now for fear of political reprisals from cynical party leaders. History will judge them for this, as it has judged others who have stood idly by as civil rights have been curtailed. They will be viewed with as much disdain as those who have actively sought to curtail civil rights. In the tradition of those civil rights giants who fought for the right to vote before us, we ask these senators, “Which side are you on, senator, which side are you on?”

“As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day approaches, we will not accept empty promises in pursuit of Dr. King’s dream of a fairer and fairer America. Our leaders have a historic opportunity to restore and protect the legacy of Dr. King by passing the John R. Lewis Freedom to Vote Act.

“The Senate must act by any means necessary to pass the John R. Lewis Freedom to Vote Act so that every vote counts and we all have a say in our future. This legislation addresses some of the major problems facing our democracy by restoring the power of the Suffrage Act, establishing national standards to protect access to the vote, ending partisan gerrymandering of congressional precincts, beginning to overhaul our broken campaign finance system and creating new safeguards against subversion of the electoral process. Filibuster must not be an obstacle to protecting our freedom to vote.

“Ongoing efforts to advance this important legislation will finally allow for open and public debate. We will follow the debate closely. We encourage all to closely watch and note the position of each senator, regardless of party, on preserving democracy and protecting the fundamental right to vote.

This statement has been signed by the following organizations:

  • National Coalition on Black Civic Participation/Black Women’s Roundtable President and CEO Melanie Campbell
  • Wade Henderson, Acting President and CEO of the Civil and Human Rights Leadership Conference
  • Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Chairman and Executive Director Damon Hewitt
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill
  • Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP
  • National Council of Negro Women Executive Director Janice L. Mathis
  • President and CEO of the National Urban League Marc H. Morial
  • President and Founder of the National Action Network, Reverend Al Sharpton


The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) is one of the nation’s most active civil rights and social justice organizations “dedicated to increasing civic engagement, the economy, and the Voter Empowerment in Black America”. The Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) is the women’s and girls’ empowerment and empowerment arm of the NCBCP. At the forefront of advocating for fair and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women, BWR promotes their health and well-being, economic security and prosperity, education, and global empowerment as key components of the success.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 230 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all people in the United States. The Leadership Conference works for an America that lives up to its ideals. For more information about the Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was established in 1963 at the request of the President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to combat racial discrimination. The primary mission of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to ensure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, justice justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.

Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s premier civil and human rights advocacy organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957, although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multidisciplinary, collaborative center within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Founded in 1909 in response to ongoing violence against black people across the country, the NAACP is the nation’s largest and most prominent civil rights organization. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the country, as well as over 2 million activists. Our mission is to secure equal political, educational, social and economic rights to eliminate discrimination based on race and ensure the health and well-being of all people. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP.

National Council of Negro Women is a Washington, DC-based charity that makes a difference in the lives of women, children and families through a four-pronged strategy that emphasizes entrepreneurship, health equity, STEAM education and social justice. Founded 86 years ago, NCNW has 330 community and university chapters and thirty-two national affiliates representing more than two million women and men. NCNW’s programs are founded on a foundation of critical concerns known as the Four for the Future. NCNW is known for GoodHealthWINs which provides trusted health care information, for the production of the Black Family Reunion and the HBCU College Fair. For more information, please visit www.ncnw.org or NCNW’s social channels via Facebook, Twitter, instagram, Where LinkedIn.

The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment to raise living standards in historically underserved urban communities. The National Urban League leads the efforts of its 91 local affiliates through program development, public policy research and advocacy, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people each year in all the countries. Visit www.nul.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @NatUrbanLeague and @NULPolicy.

National Action Network (NAN) is one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations, with chapters across the United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works in the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to advance a modern civil rights plan that includes fighting for a standard of justice, decency and equality. opportunities for all, regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender.

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