Into a New Voting Rights Act

John Lewis fought and nearly died for voting rights for Black Americans. Is the nation ready for a new Voting Rights Act?

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About this episode:

Congressman John Lewis was laid to rest this week at the age of 80, after a lifetime of fighting for civil rights and human dignity. As a young man, his life was almost cut short as he led a protest for voting rights in Selma, Alabama. That day — March 7, 1965 — became known as Bloody Sunday, as state troopers attacked the protesters with horses and billy clubs. Lewis was badly beaten, and his skull was fractured.

Broadcast images of Bloody Sunday put pressure on Congress and then-President Lyndon Johnson to pass the Voting Rights Act. The 1965 VRA eliminated racist voting practices such as poll taxes and literacy tests. It also put states and districts with especially discriminatory histories under federal oversight. But in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the VRA, undercutting its effectiveness.

Activists and political organizers have been working to ensure that this rollback of the VRA does not keep Black Americans from being able to cast their ballots, but voter suppression has still been a major concern throughout the country. Now, the passing of John Lewis is bringing renewed energy to the fight for the franchise.

On this episode of Into America, Trymaine Lee talks to political strategist LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund, about the ongoing struggle for full voting rights.

Find the transcript here.

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