As the nation marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, Connecticut and other leaders issued statements Thursday.
Here are some of those statements, shared unedited:
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:
“Our task to protect the fundamental right to vote is as critical today as it was fifty years ago when Dr. King stood in the White House as President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
Dr. King wrote, “Voting is the foundation stone for political action.” Voting is the engine that drives all civil rights, all human rights, and all economic rights in this country. It’s the right from which all other rights flow.
That’s why Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses, and young people like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner risked everything in the hot summer of 1964 to register voters in the state of Mississippi—and countless other heroes marched in communities across the country to ensure every eligible person could exercise his or her most basic right of citizenship.
The desire for that voice is what inspired 600 courageous young people, including my friend John Lewis, to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, straight into the belly of hell. It inspired a nationwide movement that brought the Voting Rights Act to President Johnson’s desk 50 years ago today.
And it’s why we remain committed to using every tool at our disposal and every fiber of our being to protect this fundamental right, as we did in Texas when a federal court struck down one of the most pernicious anti-voting laws in the country.
The legacy of the Voting Rights Act is not fulfilled until we break down the barriers designed to silence our fellow citizens.
nd so on this day and every day, I salute generations of marchers for justice who continue this fight to ensure that most fundamental American act: to vote.”
U.S. REP. ROSA DELAURO, D-3:
“Ensuring all Americans can freely participate in the electoral process is a bedrock of our democratic society. Fifty years after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, that law is still under assault. Republicans who control the House of Representatives should allow an immediate vote on legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, update and modernize our voter registration systems, and require all states to allow some form of early voting.”
U.S. SEN. CHRIS MURPHY:
“50 years ago, our nation sought to begin mending fractures from generations of injustice by passing the Voting Rights Act. This law was an important step forward in America’s unending struggle to be a nation worthy of our underlying principles and values.
“We cannot allow ourselves to become complacent because the worst of the Jim Crow era is behind us. The fight for our democratic values persists, as forces continue to erect new barriers to voting for minorities, the poor and the elderly,” Murphy added. “Our nation’s leaders have a solemn duty to leave the next generation with a world that is more just, but Congress’s deliberate refusal to restore this landmark civil rights bill in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision sends a signal that discrimination is tolerable if it isn’t overt. If, as a nation, we fail to protect the right of every American to have his or her voice heard at the ballot box, it will leave a dark stain on our democracy and a less free nation for our children.”
NEW HAVEN MAYOR TONI N. HARP:
“Fifty years ago today, our country affirmed that political power would not be determined by prejudice or oppression. We protected and then expanded our voices so that we could call for the changes our communities needed. Today we celebrate that accomplishment - and celebrate all that voting means for us.”
(In a release, Harp also “thanked the state delegation for working to make it easier to register to vote, and she commended the community activists and organizers of Ward 20 for their work to engage voters in their community. She also spoke of the amount of work that still must be done to fully restore voting rights for all citizens.”)