“Fifty years ago in Selma, Alabama, residents, African-American civil rights leaders, religious leaders, students and ordinary citizens stood up not just for the right to vote, but for basic human decency. At the Edmund Pettus Bridge, many were hurt, beaten, or killed during what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” But the violence of that day could not stop the inexorable march towards justice that birthed the Voting Rights Act. The bravery of these men and women in the face of bigotry and hate is legendary, and their tireless work opened doors so that other communities would not be denied voting rights. We continue to honor marchers like Congressman John Lewis who sacrificed so much to achieve justice.
“Today, we continue the struggle to protect and defend voting rights.
“In 2012, the Supreme Court’s decision to gut the heart of the Voting Rights Act has had a profound impact on democracy and voting. Around the country, voter ID laws aimed at restricting turnout have suppressed thousands of votes in their wake. The goals of these laws are simple and political—to systematically obstruct people from exercising their right to vote. These laws are harmful to our democracy and run counter to our values as a nation. We must always strive for fairness.
“Voting rights are precious, and we must vigorously work to grow the voting franchise, not restrict it. On this anniversary of Selma, we must recommit ourselves to fighting injustice, expanding access to voting and protecting voting rights. We owe it to those who stood up that day.”