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The National Black Justice Coalition Commemorates the 56th Anniversary of the Passage of the Voting Rights Act 

CONTACT: Brett Abrams | 

Says Now is the Time for Congress to Once Again Act to Protect the Right to Vote by Passing Democracy Saving Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC — Fifty-six years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. The legislation served to protect and enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution. It was enacted in response to voter suppression in the century that followed the amendments by the Ku Klux Klan, state governments, local governments, and law enforcement. It prohibited states from denying a person the right to vote based on race or color and banned discriminatory barriers to voting such as literacy tests and poll taxes.

With voting rights under attack across the United States, the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s leading Black LGBTQ+/same gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) civil rights organization, commemorates the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and urges Congress to recommit to protect the right to vote.

David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition explained: 

“Fifty-six years ago today, under tremendous pressure from Black civil rights activists – including LGBTQ+/SGL heroes like Bayard Rustin – President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibiting states from denying a person the right to vote based on race or color and banning discriminatory voter suppression efforts like requiring literacy tests and fees at the polls. 

“As we commemorate the passage of this landmark legislation, and celebrate the (s)heroes who helped make this law a reality – it cannot be lost on anyone that across the country the right to vote is under attack. 

“Just this year alone, 18 states have enacted 30 laws that restrict voting access. These laws, targeting primarily people of color and low income people – make mail voting and early voting more difficult, impose harsher voter ID requirements that disadvantage frequent movers, trans and gender non-conforming people, and make faulty voter purges more likely. An additional 400 bills restricting voting access have been introduced in 49 states across the United States this legislative session. This is a wholescale attack on the right to vote and our democracy.  If we are to honor the legacy of those who made the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a reality, we must do everything in our power to fight these laws and ensure access to the polls for all Americans.”

“That means passing critical legislation like the For the People Act, a bill that would increase voting and election security to ensure that everyone’s vote counts; and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill that would update the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prevent states from legislating significant voting barriers based on race.

“It is also critical that Congress pass the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination in public places that are often used as polling locations, because if you experience discrimination at a location used as a polling place, you will likely be less comfortable going there to exercise your right to vote on election day.”

“Passing these critical bills will help to fill holes in the foundation of our democracy that continue to persist even after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

“Those opposed to expanding voting rights continue to make the same baseless arguments about voting and ‘voter fraud’ made a century ago, to explain authoritarian voter suppression efforts. 

“And just like the visionary leaders that helped pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we will continue to advocate for equality including through the expansion and protection of voting rights.”

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.