Earlier this week, on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the Senate Judiciary Committee took up the important work of restoring the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). People For the American Way and its African American Ministers in Action program were among the many voting rights advocates who sent a loud and clear message that the VRA is still needed, and the time is now to right what the Court wronged.
As we work to ensure not only that President Obama receives legislation without undue delay, but also that whatever language he signs protects as many voters as possible from discrimination, it is important to remember those who died a half century ago fighting for this very cause.
On June 21, 1964, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman were murdered in Mississippi while participating in the Freedom Summer campaign to register African Americans to vote.
Today, they are remembered by our friends at Bend the Arc.
Following "Bloody Sunday" on March 7, 1965, Reverend James Reeb traveled to Selma, AL to participate in a second attempt to cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge. On the 9th, he was beaten. On the 11th, he succumbed to his injuries.
Today, members of one of his former congregations, All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, DC, are "singing on" for change.
Failing to defend the right to vote is simply not an option.
It wasn't then. It isn't now.