The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

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Aug 17, 2006

National Coalition On Black Civic Participation Focusing On Senate Action Expected Next Week

Press Statement By
Joanne Williams
Kevin Parker
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Inc.

Cautious Optimism Urged On Passage Of Voting Rights Act Reauthorization

Washington, DC – July 14, 2006 – Civil rights organizations quickly turned a vigil in front of the Longworth House Office Building into a celebration following reauthorization of the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 without punitive amendments. The concerted advocacy and sustained citizen pressure brought to bear by the combined efforts of the 80-organization National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, the Black Leadership Forum, and the National Urban League and served to keep the equality of voting opportunity high on the American public’s agenda.

“We won a major round today to get this out of the House with no amendments, but it’s not over,” said Melanie L. Campbell, Executive Director and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, during an interview. Plans call for the same level of sustained vigilance on the Senate side as they consider passage of the voting rights measure sent over from the House. “We’re going to have a sustained presence on Capitol Hill until it passes the Senate,” Campbell added.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) was passed to supplement the 15th Amendment to the Constitution and guarantees that no federal, state or local government can impede or discourage the voting rights of citizens. Three enforcement provisions, vital to protecting the right to vote for all Americans, are due to expire in 2007.

Joe Leonard, Executive Director of The Black Leadership Forum stated that, “Yesterday’s House vote was an important step in renewing the Voting Rights Act. It was also an important message to the world that the democracy we espouse abroad is actually being enforced and protected in the United States.”

The Senate, like the House must reauthorize Section 5 that requires some state and counties to obtain federal approval before making any voting changes. Section 203 of the Act guarantees language assistance for citizen, and Sections 6 through 9 give the U.S. Attorney General the power to send federal examiners and observers to monitor elections and document abuses.

“I must applaud U.S. House members for having the courage of their convictions to resist a few persistent obstructionists intent on derailing one of the most important civil rights laws on the books and on setting this country back decades,” said Marc Morial, President, and the National Urban League. “The House Thursday sent a loud and clear message that the Voting Rights Act is not something to be messed with. This is a vote that lawmakers can truly be proud of.”

Campbell notes that the Voting Rights Act serves as the legacy to the countless numbers of African Americans and other citizens of conscience who braved hostility and brutality to ensure the right to vote. “We just can’t fail in our mission to keep our democracy strong. And the only way to accomplish this is to continue on the march to protect every citizen’s voting franchise,” Campbell stated.

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