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"“Maybe some of us need to study a little contemporary history dealing with the question of voting rights.
Just think,
before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it was almost impossible for many people in the state of Georgia, in
Alabama, in Virginia, in Texas,
to register to vote, to participate in the democratic  process.  The state of Mississippi,
for example, had a black voting-age population of more than 450,000, and only about 16,000 were registered to vote.
One county in Alabama, there was more than 80 percent not a single registered African-American voter.

It’s shameful that you would come here tonight and say to the
Department of Justice that you must not use one penny,
one cent, one dime, one dollar to
carry out the mandate of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act..   We should be
opening up the political process, letting all our citizens come in and participate. People died for the right to vote!
Friends of mine, colleagues of mine!  I speak out against this amendment. It doesn’t have a place. This is not the place.”
Congressman John Lewis
May 9, 2012  Regarding Voting Rights Funding Suppression
"Selma to Montgomery March  
For Voting Rights in 1965"
James Karales, Photographer
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It has become one of the most iconic
images of the mid-twentieth century
Civil Rights Movement: James Karales
photographic capturing of the
determination of thousands - undaunted
by the foreboding, stormy-cloud filled
sky - marching in the face of defiance
from Selma to Montgomery to demand
their constitutional right to register and
vote.   
It began in Selma, with  twenty-five year
old, courageous John Lewis leading the
way.   A mere six hundred or so braced
them selves as they approached the
Edmund Pettus Bridge with pig-bellied,
helmet covered Alabama State Troopers
waiting with Billy-clubs at the opposite
end.  They knew what was coming, but
they marched on anyway.
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It is recorded in history as “Bloody
Sunday.”  March 5, 1965, the day racism’s
hatred unleashed tear gas, dogs and one
thousand pound-horses hooves on unarmed,
innocent men women and children.  Yes,
children.  The cameras rolled.  The world
watched horrified.  The battered marchers
turned back, but did not back down.  

Reinforced, this time with Reverend Martin
Luther King, Jr. joining the lead, they
doubled their ranks and returned on March
9, only to be met with the same viral
anguish.  They knelt, prayed and turned
around, refusing to yield to the temptation of
the unharnessed violent men again waiting
for them at the other end.  It mattered not.  
Right: In 1965, 25 year old John Lewis, as Chairman of Student
Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, leads marchers across the Pettus
Bridge only to be met and beat by violent Alabama State Troupers at the
other end.  Above: Lewis is on his knees in the foreground, protecting
his head as trained.
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A. H. Ritchie Engraving  of F. B. Carpenter Painting of the
September 22, 1862 First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation
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Rabid with racism, Alabama’s 'good ole boys' would swoop
down on three unsuspecting ministers who had traveled to
Selma for the march, beating them unmercifully.  Two days
later,  Reverend James Reeb of Boston, Massachusetts died as
the result of the blows. He was 38 years old.  A nation, a world
cried foul.  A president responded: ordering protection by
Federal Guards, and calling on the United States Congress to
join him in upholding “the dignity of man, and the destiny of
Democracy,” by passing a Bill defending the voting rights of
America’s Negro citizens.  A president responded, echoing the
very signature song of the movement itself in the lofty
Congressional Chamber, “we shall over come.”

Sixteen days after the first march began, a third band headed for
the bridge, this time 3,500 strong – Americans of all races,
religions and social walks of life.  From all across the country
they came – black and white, rich and poor, educated and not,
the celebrated and the ordinary - joining forces with the non-
violent movers determined to exercise the Constitutional right to
vote.  
President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs
Voting Rights Bill of 1965 with Dr. King,
future DC Representative Walter Fauntroy (left), and the
Urban League's Whitney Young (rear) looking on.
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Over one hundred years before on September 22, 1862 President Abraham
Lincoln summoned his cabinet for the reading of the preliminary proclamation,
ordering the emancipation of enslaveed Negroes in any Confederate State that
did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863.  Became known as The
Emancipation Proclamation, that Executive Order initiated a warrant for the
release of an estimated 3.1 million of the 4 million African-Americans held in
bondage.  It would be another two years before the emancipation of all enslaved
blacks  became Constitutional Law through the Thirteenth Amendment.  In the
two years the proclamation was pending on law, a number of states maintained
their human bondage, and the law itself continues to provide clauses for
enslavement.  
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Excerpts From President Lyndon Johnson's March 21, 1965
Televised Voting Rights Speech to Congress
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...Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most
difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument: every
American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no
reason which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty
which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to insure
that right. Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country
men and women are kept from voting simply because they are
Negroes.

Every device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been
used to deny this right. The Negro citizen may go to register
only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the
official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he
manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be
disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or
because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he
manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The
registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He
may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the
most complex provisions of state law.

...The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting
because of his race or his color. We have all sworn an oath before
God to support and to defend that Constitution. We must now act in
obedience to that oath. Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law
designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote.

...But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over. What
happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches
into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American
Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life.
Their cause must be our cause too. Because it's not just Negroes,
but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of
bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.

...But a century has passed--more than 100 years--since the Negro
was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100
years ago that Abraham Lincoln--a great President of another
party--signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a
proclamation and not a fact.

...The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions
and protests, his courage to risk safety, and even to risk his life,
have awakened the conscience of this nation. His demonstrations
have been designed to call attention to injustice, designed to provoke
change; designed to stir reform. He has been called upon to make
good the promise of America.
As President Lyndon Johnson stood before the joint session of Congress on
Proclamation.  “A century has passed,” he said, “more than 100 years--since
equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed
since the day of promise, and the promise is un-kept. The time of justice has now
come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back.”       

The Stonewall, Texas born statesman knew first hand the vestiges of
racism’s fear and hatred.  He was bred in a state that held onto the institution of
slavery beyond the proclamation.  He worked with and witnessed the
impoverished lives of the descendants of the indigenous people of the southern
land.  He watched them blow out the brains of his predecessor.  Standing beside
a bewildered, blood-splattered First Lady, he took an oath.  No one could have
known the passion burning in his heart that day.  No one could have known that
he – this southern drawled gentleman – would be the one to face a nation and say
‘enough is enough,’ we must, and we shall overcome.

He did not stop with raising the issue of voting rights.  He went on to lift up “the
full blessings of American life,” equal opportunity for employment and education,
a life overcoming poverty, ignorance and disease.  During his tenure, this Lone
Star statesmen signed off on several Acts of inclusion for all Americans: Civil
Rights, Economic Opportunity, Housing, Higher Education, Freedom of
Information, Immigration, Bilingual Education, Gun Control, Anti-Age
Discrimination, Medicare… and to seal his “Great Society” deal, he appointed
Thurgood Marshall as the first black Supreme Court Justice.

So, here now fifty years after the hundred since the great Proclamation of which
Johnson noted was just that – a proclamation, we still have not overcome the
fight for equal rights.  Too many are yet denied “the full blessing.”  Black
Americans are still deeply held by the bondage of poverty.  Black men compose
the highest population of the incarcerated and the unemployed.  The prospect of a
full and free education for all of our children is slowly being snatched away.  And
- even by nose in spite of face - the prospect of adequate healthcare and wellness
is being squashed in favor of insurance and pharmaceutical industry control.  And
yes, full access to exercise our right to vote is yet being suppressed.  Nearly fifty
years post the Voting Rights Act, the tricks may have slightly changed, but the
result is the same.  Suppression.  

On May 7, 2012 I sat in the filled US District Court Chamber of Chief Judge
Oliver Solomon for the Congressional field hearing on Ohio Voter Suppression.  
It was a great day.  Here we sat, listening to testimony defending voting rights,
in the chamber of a Chief Judge who happened to be a black man, in a federal
courthouse that happened to be named for another, the late Carl Stokes.  

Presiding Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois’ opening statement was brilliant and
moving.  He reminded us of the “long and difficult struggle, including bloodshed”
that African Americans have historically faced in our efforts to exercise the most
basic democratic right.   “Now, over 30 states have new or pending legislation to
restrict access to voting, he said, threatening to disenfranchise five million in the
upcoming presidential election.”   

But here’s the good news.   
The arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends
toward justice
, and no force can hold it back.  And, just as the authors of those
two phrases, and the thousands of men and women whose indomitable spirit
moved them onward in the face of evil resistance, “we ain’t gonna’ let nobody
turn us ‘round.”   
It's time to move Forward!
Reverend Tony Minor and anti-Ohio HB 194 protesters outside the Federal
Court during a 2012 Congressional field hearing on voter suppression
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of
September, in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and
sixty-two, a proclamation was issued
by the President of the United States,
containing, among other things, the
following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in
the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and sixty-three, all
persons held as slaves within any
State or designated part of a State,
the people whereof shall then be in
rebellion against the United States,
shall be then, thenceforward, and
forever free;
MIJ August 2012
Join Us!  Help Emancipate The Vote!
Don't wait for election time!
We need individuals and organizations
constantly working to educate and
register voters throughout the year.
New Registrations
Change of Address Registrations
Vote By Mail Registrations
States With More
Than 40%
Non-Registered
Voting Age
Populations

Arizona
California
Connecticut
< West Virginia
Wyoming
20% - 40%
Non-Registered
Voting Age
Populations

Arkansas
Delaware
< = Florida
< Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Maryland
< Minnesota
=Nevada
< = New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Oklahoma
Oregon
< South Carolina
< Tennessee
< Texas
Washington
Washington DC
= Swing States
< States With/Pending
Voter Suppression Laws
States With Less
Than 20%
Non-Registered
Voting Age
Populations

< Alabama
= Colorado
< Indiana
= Iowa
< Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Massachusetts
< = Michigan
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
= North Carolina
< = Ohio
< Pennsylvania
South Dakota
Utah
Vermont
< = Virginia
< = Wisconsin
States With %
Information Not
Available

< Mississippi
Alaska
North Dakota
Rhode Island
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9.22.12
Emancipation Day
Are You In?

Cleveland, Ohio
Carl Stokes Brigade
Team Alcorn &
NOVA
Team Baker
Team James
Team Jordan
Team Tolliver
Team Wingo
Young Democrats
For Details About
Your State Visit The
Missing Vote Project
At
DemocracySouth.org
Do You Know How
Many Votes Are
Missing In Your
State?
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Selma is an American historical
drama film directed by
Ava DuVernay and written by
Paul Webb. It is based on the
1965 Selma to Montgomery
voting rights marches led by
James Bevel, Hosea Williams,
and Martin Luther King, Jr.
of SCLC and
John Lewis of SNCC.
The film stars David Oyelowo as
King, Tom Wilkinson as
President Lyndon Johnson,
Common as Bevel, and Carmen
Ejogo as Coretta Scott King.
IN A THEATER
NEAR YOU!
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The Emancipation Proclamation, Bloody Sunday on
the
Edmund Pettus Bridge, President Lyndon
Johnson
invoking both events as he addresses the joint
sessions of Congress petitioning for the passage of the
Voting Rights Acts of 1965, and the 2012
Congressional  Hearings on
Voter Suppression and
Voting Rights Funding Suppression
.  These are the
images we conjure up in c
alling for the urgency in a
mass movement to register and get out the vote
!
Like pied-pipers, marchers armed only with the prayers and songs of conviction,
gathered new feet and new fervor, mile by fifty-four miles,
until a few hundred voices four days later became 25,000 strong:
“Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round.  Gonna keep on a walkin, keep on a talking,
marching into freedom land.’”