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We All Deserve The Right To Vote Article and Photographs by Rhonda Varsane Over fifty people of various faiths and backgrounds gathered today in front of the building that houses Congressman Pete Sessions’ Dallas office.

came pre-pared with tear gas nightsticks and bullwhips. When pro-testers refused to turn back, this unprovoked attack turned violent.

The concern is the Federal Voting Rights Act. The Declaration of Independence, issued on July 4, 1776, stated “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal...”

Air filled with tear gas, while the marchers beaten, bull whipped and trampled by horses turned around to return to Selma. The violence left seventeen marchers hospitalized.

Slavery for people of African heritage continued until the Civil War in the 1860s,

We pray

Dr. Martin Luther King and supporters filed a federal lawsuit to continue with the march.

and as global immigrants increased so did the problems of racial discrimination.

The civil rights march resumed on March 21 with Federal troop protection. They proceeded to Montgomery to hold a rally on the steps of the state capitol.

Women and people with disabilities have also fought for fairness and equality. In 1963, civil rights activists began an effort to register black voters in Dallas County, Alabama. In 1965, January and February found protesters gathering in Selma to bring attention to the violation of their rights. Hundreds of potential voters en route to the courthouse in Selma met with violence.

When the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Selma, Alabama, about

Hours after the march Viola Liuzzo lost her life as four Ku Klux Klan members shot her. Liuzzo a 39-year-old white civil rights

After the February 17 shooting of Jimmy Lee Jackson during a small civil rights march, activists decided to hold a memorial march to the state capitol. two hundred state troopers and Sheriff James Clark and his d e p u t i e s mounted on horseback

Sunday morning, March 7, approximately 600 marchers started their march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital.


volunteer came from Detroit, Michigan to support African-Americans. The murder of voting rights activists in Philadelphia, Mississippi, became national news. President Lyndon Johnson said, “Mrs.

Liuzzo went to Alabama to serve the struggle for justice. She was murdered by the enemies of justice who for decades have used the rope and the gun and the tar and the feathers to terrorize their neighbors.” The March 7, 1965 violence moved President Johnson and Congress to action.

the voting process. August 6, 1965 President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.

Section 5 imposes requirements on certain states. This ‘covered jurisdiction’ requires these states to submit all proposed electoral changes of standard, practice, or procedure for approval to the U.S. Attorney General.

All men are created equal

Previous Department of Justice’s efforts to eliminate discriminatory election practices

This Act outlawed literacy test and poll tax as a qualification to register, and provided for federal instead of local or state registration of voters. There are parts of the Voting Rights Act that are permanent law, but there are some special provisions that expire if not renewed. Special pro-visions in Section 2 of this Act prohibit nation-wide

case-by-case proved unsuccessful. As soon as one discriminatory practice proved to be unconstitutional, a new procedure started the legal process over again. The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing the civil rights laws passed by Congress. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits discrimination in voting practices or procedures such as literacy tests and poll tax used to prevent black voting. In 1975, Congress voted in provisions to help protect those that did not read or speak English and those needing help with

This procedure for approval is termed ‘preclearance’. If changes are not pre-cleared, the changes cannot take place. This special provision applies mostly to Southern states although other states and counties are included (See map). Alabama had eighteen annexation requests pending for June and July 2006 under Section 5 pre-clearance requirements. Section 5 is not permanent and is probably the most controversial Section because affected states feel singled-out and think the requirements are unfair. Although this special provision may seem

discrimination and put into effect a special enforcement provision of the 15th Amendment that guaranteed everyone would have the right to vote, regardless of race or color. Congress amended Section 2 in 1982 providing that the plaintiff could establish a violation of this Section without proof of i n t e n - t i o n a l discrimination. In 1982, Congress made section two permanent without need of renewal.

unimportant, it the most important special provision. The provision’s need for renewal is a double-


edged sword; one if handled poorly will have detrimental results. There is always the possi-

The Fifteenth Amendment as frightening as the intensions of elected officials renewing a law that is not due to expire until August 2007. Being that these provisions are not permanent law Congress must renew, amend, or drop the temporary enforcement provisions as they become due. This time the temporary enforcement provisions passed. Thursday, July 13, in a 390 to 33 vote the House renewed the 1965 Voting Rights Act for an additional 25 years. The U.S. Senate passed the bill 98–0. President George W. Bush Jr. signed the Special Provision bill in a morning ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, July 27, 2006. This signing is one year in advance of the special provision expiration date of 2007.

bility that these extensions will cease to exist. If this is the case, the safe guards against annexations and other manipulations will have been lost along with the successes made. On the other side, the renewal has allowed, during various extensions, the chance for evaluation, and examination of extensive testimony about voting discrimination. The discrimination experience by Hispanic, Asian and Native Americans led to the 1975 amendment adding protection for language minority citizens. Even today forty years after what some consider the most successful Civil Rights legislation ever, we still have reason for concern.

One concern occurred when certain districts in Texas experienced preferential division. The attempt to restructure these districts would dilute the influence for some and give great benefit to others. The second violation happened as the state of Georgia attempted to require a photo ID for voting, a federal judge ruled the proposed charge for the card a poll tax. Disturbingly the checkpoints established by

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act experienced a hiccup when the Justice Department precleared the two above cases. These actions are


What is the motivation for the underlying political current? Is this action true concern by our elected officials, or is this a continuance of the tiring game of politics, and/or the power of money during an election year?

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Voters Rights  

Prayer Rally in front of Dallas Representatives Offices. Black Americans have a lot to lose if this bill is not re-upped.

Voters Rights  

Prayer Rally in front of Dallas Representatives Offices. Black Americans have a lot to lose if this bill is not re-upped.