ON TO WASHINGTON—Celeste Taylor exhorts those attending BPEP’s Voting Rights Act press conference to join her on the bus for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.


“It is devastating because this was a keystone of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Freeland. “What has been overlooked and forgotten by commentators is that there is a provision that allows covered districts to opt out.  If a district has no violations for 10 years, they can ask the U.S. Justice Department to opt out. Those are not 50-year-old numbers. I know of no district that has not been allowed to do so.”

Freeland said the ruling was calculating in that, even under ideal circumstances, it would take some time for congress to create a new formula.

First a case has to be made for new districts and states to be included and a record (of violations) established,” he said. “But the court knows full well that with the bunch in office today that it will be almost impossible for Section 4 to be effectively amended.”

Nonetheless, local activist from the Black Political Empowerment Project, the Western PA Black Political Assembly, the Thomas Merton Center and others announced during a July 1 press conference with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald that they would continue to fight voter suppression efforts.

Celeste Taylor said she has already begun planning for a new march on Washington.

On Saturday, Aug. 24 participants will board buses to Washington DC to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and to renew our collective commitment to voting rights, to human rights, to equality of education, to quality housing for everyone, to access to jobs with a living wage and equality in the application of justice!  Those who wish to join us should contact B-PEP at b-pepinfo@b-pep.net or call Celeste Taylor at 412-661-1246 or B-PEP at 412-758-7898.

But not all in congress are waiting for that.  On June 28, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., sent a letter to Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, calling for immediate action.

“We should not allow the successes of the VRA to be used to justify stripping the very provisions that allow for effective protection of the rights it guarantees,” he wrote. “It is now the responsibility of Congress to pass legislation that will enable enforcement through Section 5 and continue to secure the right to vote to all of our citizens, regardless of race, national origin or language.”

 (Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com)


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