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February 28, 2017- TJC (2015-present) and what YOU can do to advance voting rights (2017)

Today, on February 28, 2017, with the twenty-eighth and last article in this series, we end of the #VRABlackHistory Series with a special two-part extended edition as we honor The Transformative Justice Coalition and educate about what YOU can do to advance voting rights.

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February 27, 2017- John Lewis

Today we honor Congressman John Lewis, who has fought for equality and voting rights his entire life.  Congressman John Lewis has put his heart, soul, skin, blood, and tears into the fight for African-American suffrage. Congressman John Lewis was “a leading participant in nearly all of the pivotal events of the civil rights movement”. Congressman Lewis:

participated in the 1960 Nashville sit-ins;

helped form in 1960 and was chairman of from 1963-1966 the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee;

participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides;

helped organize registration drives through the SNCC starting in 1962;

was an architect of and youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom;

helped lead the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery Marches and was one of the seventeen people hospitalized on Bloody Sunday;

was head of the Voter Education Project from 1970-1977;

was elected to his first official government office as an Atlanta City Council member in 1981; and,

has served thirteen consecutive terms as Congressman of Georgia’s 5th Congressional District since 1987, where he still advocates regularly for voting rights for all.

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February 26, 2017- M Veasey (1971-present)

Today, February 26, 2017, we honor Congressman Marc Veasey, who represents the 33rd District of Texas, and who has taken on the cause of voting rights head-on. Congressman Veasey took Texas Governor Greg Abbott to court because of a2011 state voter ID law that was ultimately ruled in 2016 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit as violative of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 due to its discriminatory effect on minority voters. Veasey v. Abbott, ___ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. 2016). Congressman Veasey also founded the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus in 2016, and is a very out-spoken advocate of voting rights every day of the year. The district Congressman Marc Veasey represents includes parts of Dallas County and Tarrant County, which allowed Congressman Marc Veasey to become “the first African American congressman elected in Tarrant County” when he assumed office on January 3, 2013.

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Febraury 25, 2017- The Rise of Modern Voter Suppression: Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. __ (2013)

Today, on February 25, 2017, we are educating about the rise of modern voter suppression. Our focus will be on the United State’s Supreme Court’s 2013 decision of Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. ___ (2013), which ruled Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) unconstitutional. As is outlined in the article, the Court ruling Section 4(b) of the VRA, which set the coverage formula for Section 5 of the VRA (the preclearance section), unconstitutional effectively gutted Section 5 of the VRA.

Although our focus today will be on Shelby County v. Holder, it would be remiss of us not to make of utmost clarity that voter suppression did NOT begin in 2013 after the Shelby County v. Holder decision.

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February 24, 2017- The Rev Jesse Jackson, Sr. (1941-present)

Today we honorthe Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. “The Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, is one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures. Over the past forty years, he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice.” The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. marched in Selma with Martin Luther King, Jr.; was a major-party presidential candidate twice; and, still advocates for many of the original causes on which he campaigned.

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January 23, 2017- Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm

Today we honor Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, who was the first African-American woman in Congress in 1968; and, was the first African-American and African-American woman to make a serious presidential bid for a major party in 1972. Chisholm was a Black woman who lived in the twentieth century who was a catalyst for change in America.

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February 22, 2017- The Voting Rights Act of 1965

Today, on February 22, 2017, with the twenty-second article in this series, we honor the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the landmark legislation that “…outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting. The key of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is that it was truly transformative for African-American voting rights. In Alabama and other states voter suppression methods, such as grandfather clauses, literacy tests, poll taxes, and other obstacles, had virtually eliminated the Black vote and held Black registrants and voter turn out at a staggeringly low number. The Voting Rights Act set up powerful provisions to give African Americans the rights and the legal tools to combat and overcome these disempowering voter restrictions. In a short period of time (within decades), African-American voter registration had significantly improved and there was a renaissance of African-Americans being elected to office. As you will see in subsequent articles, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been crippled by an assault of new voter suppression laws since 2011 and by the Supreme Court’s decision of Shelby County v. Holder in June 2013.

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February 21, 2017- Mississippi Freedom Summer (Summer 1964)

Today we honor the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project. “In 1964, civil rights organizations including the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organized a voter registration drive, known as the Mississippi Summer Project, or Freedom Summer, aimed at dramatically increasing voter registration in Mississippi. The Freedom Summer, comprised of black Mississippians and more than 1,000 out-of-state, predominately white volunteers, faced constant abuse and harassment from Mississippi’s white population. The Ku Klux Klan, police and even state and local authorities carried out a systematic series of violent attacks; including arson, beatings, false arrest and the murder of at least three civil rights activists.”

“Americans all around the country were shocked by the killing of civil rights workers and the brutality they witnessed on their televisions. Freedom Summer raised the consciousness of millions of people to the plight of African-Americans and the need for change. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed Congress in part because lawmakers’ constituents had been educated about these issues during Freedom Summer.”

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February 20, 2017- Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson

Today we honor Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson, who ” was a civil rights pioneer who championed voting rights for African Americans.” What better way to honor President’s Day then to honor Amelia Boynton? “Born when slavery and the Civil War were still in living memory, Mrs. Boynton Robinson became a voting rights activist in the 1930s and was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and other civil rights leaders in the 1950s and 1960s. She lived long enough to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address in January [2015] and to accompany the president across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in March, [2015] commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Selma march that almost claimed her life.”

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February 19, 2017- Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977)

Today we honor Fannie Lou Hamer, who was a seminal figure in the fight for African American voting rights and political power in the 1960’s. Hamer “”was a civil rights activist whose passionate depiction of her own suffering in a racist society helped focus attention on the plight of African-Americans throughout the South.” “During the course of her activist career, Hamer was threatened, arrested, beaten, and shot at. But none of these things ever deterred her from her work.” Although Fannie Lou Hamer came from a poor background and wasn’t highly educated, she was a fierce advocate who was able to galvanize, mobilize, and inspire a movement.

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