Fifty-six years ago, Black Americans congregated in Selma, Alabama to demonstrate for voting rights legislation to ensure African Americans their basic right to vote. Despite the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, black Americans’ access to voting was being thwarted by Jim Crowe laws in the South. During
the march, twenty-five-year-old John Lewis was severely beaten by state troopers sent by Governor George Wallace to ” use whatever force necessary to stop the march.” The protestors did not fight back, however, blood was spilled on that bridge on March 7th, 1965. This demonstration remains a testament to the bravery of those who fought there for equal rights and the equal opportunity to vote.
It’s a sad chapter of the American story to have had a President enact policies that led to a rise in racism, voter suppression, white supremacy, and an insurrection against our democracy. Donald Trump’s policies contain two major themes; racism and autocracy. The Muslim ban, support of the wall on the Mexican border, negative references to predominantly black and brown countries, his mistreatment of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, voter suppression policies, are just a few blatant examples of his racist leanings. Trump had a pattern of disparaging people of color in Congress and showed no respect for what Rep. John Lewis stood for while he was alive, or after he passed away. During the election Trump disparaged mail- in- voting opposed ballot drop boxes and insisted on the lie that proclaimed the only way he could lose was if the election was rigged.
While the country honors the Bloody Sunday, March fight to protect the voting rights of black Americans, the Georgia state government is passing legislation to make it harder for people to vote, especially for black voters. The restrictions include: repealing ” no excuse” absentee voting, eliminating Sunday voting, and requiring stringent ID requirements for absentee ballots. In reaction to losing its two Senate seats to Democrats due to high black voter turnout, the Republican-run state government is attempting to suppress the black voting block. Other Republican-run state governments are frenetically pursuing legislation to shorten voting hours, days and placing restrictions on absentee ballots that will reduce voter turnout. The 2020 election was one of the most efficiently run, low incident of fraud elections in U.S. history, but Republicans did not like results so the election fraud lie has led to actions to discourage high voter turnout.
In contrast, Biden is pressing to get HR1 voter protection legislation passed. The president also signed an executive order this week to 1) use the federal government to increase access to voter registration services, 2) direct federal agencies to submit to the White House plans to increase voter registration and participation, such as plans to use social media to help with the registration of voters, 3) instruct federal agencies to help states with voter registration under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and 4) have General Services Administration modernize Vote.org to improve the utility of the site for providing voter information.
Republicans continue to defy our democracy’s goal of making access to voting easier, not more difficult, for Americans. The realization that America is a diverse electorate has Republicans relying on voter suppression tactics and white fear ideology to retain their power in our two-party system. With Trump and his conspiracy theory cohorts in the House and Senate defining the GOP, Republicans’ chances of winning elections are diminishing. Its unethical, hypocritical practices have transformed the party into a corrupt, white male, old boys club smattered with some evangelical women willing to go down with the ship.
Republicans are still controlled by Trump and continue to show contempt and opposition to any policy or ideology the Democrats or the majority of Americans support. The GOP has devolved into the party that lies and promotes conspiracy theories, supports an autocratic, ex-president who led an insurgency to overthrow the 2020 election results, and the party who refuses to pursue bipartisanship, racial equality, and protection of equal access to voting for all Americans.
“Bloody Sunday” serves as a reminder that it takes bravery to confront racism and defend democracy against the rise of white supremacy and the autocratic ideology the Republican party now represents.
Available on Amazon: “AMERICA SURVIVED TRUMP”, A CHRONOLOGY OF THE STRUGGLE, BY REBECCA SPERBER
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