Biden & Harris Stand with Civil Rights Activists in Selma to Advocate for Voting Rights Act
On Sunday, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, and to advocate for the passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The landmark legislation was weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court decision and would bring back the requirement that states with a history of voting discrimination receive clearance from the federal government before enacting changes in electoral laws and policies.
Biden and Harris were joined by Chicago mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson, who was also in attendance. Biden spoke of the need to protect voting rights, which he said was “the threshold of democracy and liberty.” He also referred to the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act over the years and the “wave of states and dozens of anti-voting laws fueled by the Big Lie and the election deniers now elected to office.”
Harris echoed Biden's sentiments in a statement, saying, “In recent years, America has seen a new assault on the freedom to vote. Extremists have worked to dismantle the voting protections that generations of civil rights leaders and advocates fought tirelessly to win. They have purged voters from the rolls. They have closed polling places. They have made it a crime to give water to people standing in line.”
Biden also spoke of the need for Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act to ensure access to the ballot box. He said, “I made it clear I will not let a filibuster obstruct the sacred right to vote.”
The march in 1965 was led by the late civil rights activists, John Lewis and Hosea Williams, and was brutally attacked by state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The occurrences provoked indignation throughout the nation and aided in rallying backing for the Voting Rights Act.
Ahead of Biden's visit, the Rev. William Barber II, a co-chair of Poor People's Campaign, and six other activists wrote to Biden and members of Congress to express their frustration with the lack of progress on voting rights legislation. They urged Washington politicians visiting Selma not to sully the memories of the late civil rights activists with empty platitudes.
Biden and Harris' visit to Selma was an opportunity for the current generation of civil rights activists to feel supported in their fight for voting rights.
0. “Biden visits Selma as 2024 announcement is expected soon” CBS News, 6 Mar. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/video/biden-visits-selma-as-2024-announcement-is-expected-soon/
1. “On the Anniversary of Bloody Sunday, Biden Calls for Voting Rights Protections – Mother Jones” Mother Jones, 5 Mar. 2023, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/03/biden-bloody-sunday-selma-voting-rights
2. “Chicago mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson in Selma for commemoration of attack on civil rights demonstrators” FOX 32 Chicago, 6 Mar. 2023, https://www.fox32chicago.com/news/chicago-mayoral-candidate-brandon-johnson-in-selma-for-commemoration-of-attack-on-civil-rights-demonstrators
3. “Biden commemorates “Bloody Sunday” in Selma by pushing voting rights reform” Axios, 5 Mar. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/03/05/biden-bloody-sunday-voting-rights-selma
4. “In Selma, Biden stresses voting rights in face of divided Congress” The Washington Post, 6 Mar. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/03/05/biden-voting-rights/
5. “Here's How the Biden Administration Can Still Make Progress on Voting Rights” The Daily Beast, 6 Mar. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/heres-how-the-biden-administration-can-still-make-progress-on-voting-rights
6. “Biden renews call for new voting protections in visit to Selma” CNN, 5 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/05/politics/joe-biden-selma-bloody-sunday/index.html
7. “Biden’s Selma visit puts spotlight back on voting rights” CNBC, 5 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/03/05/bidens-selma-visit-puts-spotlight-back-on-voting-rights.html