Today is the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of legislation that outlawed racial discrimination in the most essential aspects of life – such as employment, schools, public accommodations and housing. It also laid the ground work for key voting protections that allowed African Americans to register to vote and eventually led to the prohibition on poll taxes and literacy tests.
But for a little known Republican from Ohio, the Civil Rights Act might not have passed. William McCulloch of Piqua, Ohio was the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and an ardent supporter of civil rights. Despite political pressure from his district to oppose the Civil Rights Act, McCulloch delivered the necessary votes to pass the controversial bill.
On this 50th anniversary, the call to renew the Voting Rights Act could not be more urgent. Today Speaker John Boehner represents McCulloch’s district, and it’s now up to the Speaker to carry McCulloch’s torch and help get the Voting Rights Amendment Act passed.
In Shelby v. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court invited Congress to update the Voting Rights Act, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers has done so with the introduction of the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA). Unfortunately, the bill has stalled in the House of Representatives and time is running out to pass it.
Sign our petition now asking Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to schedule a vote on the VRAA as soon as possible!
Despite great progress in the last 50 years, voting discrimination continues to be a problem. For this reason, a forward-looking and effective VRAA is essential to ensuring that no voter is denied the right to vote and everyone has that right protected equally.
The legacy of the Civil Rights Act depends on the passage of the VRAA, as there is no right more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote.