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Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 needed to preserve the right to vote

There has always been a connection between the U.S. civil rights movement and buses.

In 1955, Rosa Parks’ defiance of laws that required African-Americans to sit in the back of the bus helped set the civil rights movement in motion.

In 1961, the Freedom Riders risked their lives by riding in mixed racial seating arrangements on intercity buses throughout segregated states, and entered stations together to move the civil rights agenda forward.

In 1963, buses brought thousands of people to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech.


Voting rights pass

After years of struggle Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – a law that prohibited discrimination in voting – one of the hallmark achievements of that era.

Since that time, African-American voters have gone to the polls, and African Americans have been elected to office – including the highest office in the land. And by exercising that basic right much progress has been made. But, while most acknowledge that racism still exists, I don’t think people really believe that the Jim Crow era could ever return.

I suppose that’s why there was so little outrage when the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act last year and some state governments started playing games with their polling practices to suppress minority voting.

One popular tactic has been to pass laws that practically require a citizen to have a driver’s license to vote.

These laws virtually guarantee that citizens without a driver’s license – people who ride buses – will find it difficult, if not impossible to vote. And that’s how persons of color, persons with disabilities, and seniors will be disenfranchised in the 21st Century if nothing is done.


Integrity?

Oh, they say it has nothing to do with racism – just ensuring the integrity of our election process.  Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Well, they had “reasonable reasons” for segregation in 1955 too – but the system was still racist and immoral.

No one should be fooled by reasonable sounding words that have the effect of denying anyone their basic rights.  Voter ID laws are just as racist and immoral today as literacy tests for voting were during segregation.

This is why a new bill, The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, introduced in Congress by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI, and John Conyers, D-MI, is so important.  This legislation will reinstate the vital protections that the Supreme Court took away. The ATU was among the first unions to endorse it.

So, I urge you to tell your senators and representative in Congress that you support The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, and ask them to support it too.  Our right to vote is too important to let slip away.


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