SELMA, Alabama (AP) – Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Alabama on Sunday as the nation celebrates a milestone in the fight for the right to vote, a trip that occurred when Congress’s efforts to restore the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act failed. .
Harris travels to Selma, Alabama to mark the 57th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the day in 1965 when white state soldiers attacked black marchers for the rights of voters trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The country’s first female vice president – as well as the first African-American and Native American in this role – will speak on the site, which is often called a holy place in the fight for the right to vote for minority citizens.
On March 7, 1965, the state military beat and used tear gas from peaceful protesters, including young activist John Lewis, who later became Georgia’s longtime congressman. images of violence shocked the nation and helped intensify support for the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Her visit to the city, which has become the cradle of the Electoral Rights Act, comes at a time when Democrats have unsuccessfully tried to update the landmark law and take further steps to make it more convenient to vote.
The law, named after Lewis, who died in 2020, is part of a broader electoral package that collapsed in the U.S. Senate in February.
Visiting Alabama during a congressional pilgrimage to coincide with the anniversary, House Majority Leader Stanley Hoyer, MD, said he hoped some compromise could still save the Lewis-elected bill.
“The John Lewis bill means a lot to us because many of us worked together on the bill, and John was the leader and inspirer,” Hoyer said in an interview in Birmingham on Friday.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 rejected part of a 1965 law that required some states with a history of voting discrimination, mostly in the south, to obtain approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before changing the way elections are conducted.
Proponents of ending the purge said it was no longer needed, although it was necessary in the 1960s. Proponents of voting rights warn that the end of the preliminary cleansing encourages states to adopt a new wave of voting restrictions.
President Joe Biden used a small portion of his speech on the state of the Union to renew his request to Congress to take action.
“The most fundamental right in America is the right to vote – and the right to have it taken into account. And it’s under attack. New laws have been passed in the states not only to suppress voting, but also to undermine all elections, ”Biden said.
Extensive legislation called the Freedom of Vote Act: The John R. Lewis Act would restore pre-registration requirements and introduce national election standards – for example, to make election day a national holiday and allow early voting nationwide – would establish rules for redistribution of criteria.
Every year, the remembrance of Bloody Sunday became a regular stop for politicians to pay tribute to the soldiers of the civil rights movement and call for action.
Harris will visit civil rights leaders before speaking at the foot of the bridge. The bridge, named after a Confederate general and a prominent leader of the Ku Klux Klan, has become a enduring symbol of the civil rights movement.
Harris will also take part in the annual symbolic march across the bridge.
Several other members of President Joe Biden’s administration will also attend the event, including Housing and Urban Development Minister Marcia Fudge, Transport Minister Pete Butizig, Education Minister Miguel Cardona, and Environment Agency administrator Michael Regan.