Call organized by the Democracy Initiative brought national leaders together and tens of thousands of citizens to demand action from Congress on the Voting Rights Act
WASHINGTON, DC â€“This week, nearly 23,100 people from across the country joined a tele-town hall to discuss the urgent need for Congress to update the Voting Rights Act.Â The town hall was hosted by a coalition of civil, human, environmental and labor rights groups.Â The audio of the town hall is here:Â http://ow.ly/stfC0.
Leaders who spoke during the town hall included CWA President Larry Cohen, NAACP Interim President & CEO Lorraine C. Miller, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, La Raza President & CEO Janet Murguia, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey, Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford, America Sustainable Business Council Co-founder and CEO David Levine, US. Student Association President Sophia Zaman.
The following are excerpts from the tele-town hall. For audio of the town hall click here.
Larry Cohen, President, CWA
â€œThe voices of todayâ€™s speakers will not be enough.Â It is up to you who are listening in your communities raise your voices and demand immediate action. 2015 marks the 50th year the Voting Rights Act that has protected our vote. Letâ€™s make sure our democracy is not just repaired by 2015, but also made stronger. We reauthorized the VRA only a few years ago with a sweeping bipartisan majority.Â We owe it to all those that fought relentlessly for voting rights to make sure Congress acts once again.â€
Lorraine Miller, Interim President and CEO, NAACP
â€œWithout question, the Supreme Courtâ€™s decision cracked the foundation that we built to protect voters from discrimination. As we call for the VRA to be updated we must not only fill in those cracks in the foundation but also reinforce it so we will have a stronger foundation for the futureâ€¦. Congress must act urgently and with bipartisanship, and when they do, we must be willing to stand behind a bill that will streamline standards and mandate fair practices for all voters in our local, state, and national elections.â€
Phil Radford, Executive Director, Greenpeace
â€œWe are called together today with an even stronger purpose. Our nation needs a bill that makes commonsense fixes to the Voting Right Act. Fixes that protect voters from the real and immediate threat of discrimination. When a bill is introduced, we have to be on the frontlines making sure members of Congress focus on voting rights protections and not just their prospects during the next election. Congress is responsible for what happens next. We have to hold them accountable.â€
Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
â€œWhen our country has been at its worst, our communities have joined together to fight for our livelihoods. It is time to bind our individual voices and collective strength again today. The Supreme Courtâ€™s ruling on the Voting Rights Act left the door open for Congress to recommit itself to protecting the fundamental right to vote by ensuring all citizens, no matter their race, have equal and unfettered access to the ballot boxâ€¦. We have to make sure Congress answers Americaâ€™s call to action.â€
About the Democracy Initiative: Launched in 2013 by principal convening organizations the Communications Workers of America, Greenpeace USA, the NAACP, and the Sierra Club, the Democracy Initiative seeks to restore the core principle of political equality. Labor, civil rights, voting rights, environmental, good government and other like-minded organizations with broad memberships are committing to build a movement to halt the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics, prevent the systemic manipulation and suppression of voters, and address other obstacles to significant reform, including the abuse of U.S. Senate rules that allow a small minority to obstruct deliberation and block action on legislation drafted to address the critical challenges facing our nation.