By Marc H. Morial
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – “The lessons of history are clear: when elected officials need to take a stand, when they need to be accountable and show the American people where they stand on the issues, then the good side of history ultimately wins out. . I believe it will be the same in this fight to protect our democracy. The forces that oppose democracy today are strong, but as we have seen in recent history, the resolve of the American people is stronger. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, State of Black America 2022
Gerrymandering. Elimination of voters. Malicious misinformation. Intimidation.
Politicians have used these tactics for generations to exclude voters of color and give their parties an advantage. But never before has the nation seen such an insidious and coordinated campaign to erase the very principle of “one person, one vote” from the political process.
On Tuesday April 12, the National Urban League 2022 state of black america®, “Under Siege: The Plot to Destroy Democracy,” reveals the scope of this campaign. In response, the National Urban League is relaunching its highly effective civic engagement and voter education campaign, “Reclaim Your Vote.”
Using data and analysis from our research partner, the Brennan Center for Justice, The State of Black America examines the stunning reversal of a two-century moral arc that has bent, albeit slowly and unequally, towards universal suffrage.
From the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, when only white male landowners could vote, to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the United States experienced steady, albeit uneven, expansion. applied, of the right to vote. In 1856, land ownership requirements were eliminated in all states, giving the vote to most white men. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, guaranteed black Americans the right to vote, although the rise of Jim Crow restrictions like poll taxes and literacy tests effectively disenfranchised black Southerners for most of of the following century. The 1920 19th Amendment extended the franchise to women—in practice only white women—until the Voting Rights Act outlawed most Jim Crow restrictions.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act prohibited states and counties with a history of voter suppression from making changes to election laws until a “favorable ruling” had been obtained, either by administrative review by the Attorney General or after a trial in the United States District. Court of the District of Columbia. By overwhelming bipartisan majorities, Congress reauthorized the preclearance provision four times – in 1970, 1975, 1982 and 2006, each time signed by a Republican president. “Republicans don’t want to be branded as hostile to minorities,” scolded anti-civil rights activist Edward Blum, an architect of the Shelby case.
So anti-civil rights activists gave up hope of congressional action to weaken the Voting Rights Act and turned to the courts. The Shelby earthquake was preceded by tremors like Purcell v. Gonzales in 2006, which allowed Arizona to bypass Section 5 because the Court of Appeals decision to block Arizona’s restrictive voter ID law was too close to an upcoming election . Crawford v. Marion County Election Board in 2008, which allowed Indiana to enact tough voter ID law, overturned the Court’s longstanding opposition to election laws that serve no other purpose than restricting the right to vote.
A decade and a half after the Voting Rights Act was last reauthorized, Senate Republicans — some of whom voted for the reauthorization — no longer fear being “labeled anti-minority.” Republicans have united in filibuster suffrage legislation five times in the current session alone, despite seven in 10 Americans supporting the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and three in five supporting the Freedom to Vote Act.
The report will be released Tuesday at Atlanta University Center in Georgia, a state that was ground zero for the tactics discussed in the report. Just this week, Georgia lawmakers passed a bill that would give new election police powers to the state’s Bureau of Investigation – yet another attempt to intimidate poll workers and voters.
The report will also reveal the 2022TM Equality Index, the National Urban League’s biannual calculation of the social and economic status of African Americans relative to whites. And, for the first time, For the first time, state of black america includes an additional survey, the Pulse of Black America. Conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, the survey reveals black Americans’ attitudes toward voting and democracy, as well as social and racial justice, police brutality, economic opportunity and other issues.
The full report will be available April 12 on StateOfBlackAmerica.org.