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Black Lives Matter: Voting Rights Are Not Enough

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Eric Lucas     Permalink
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"[T]he problem before the [African American] today is not the depths from which he has come but the heights to which he aspires"...Charles Hamilton Houston, from "An Approach to Better Race Relations" May 5, 1934.


Citizenship and the Right to Vote

The right to vote has been universally understood as the essential and critical right in our bundle of citizenship rights. Yet, after 145 years of battle, Black Americans have not yet secured full citizenship through the right to vote. Accordingly, we are forced to conclude that voting rights are not enough to guarantee citizenship for Black Americans. So what is needed? The right to full development.

In 1870 the 15 th Amendment was adopted to specifically ensure voting rights to all free citizens. And in 1965 responding to the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement, President Lyndon Johnson signed a new Voting Rights Act into law: creating new mechanisms to enforce the right to vote for all Blacks.

About the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the NAACP says:

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Originally, in 1965, legislators hoped that within five years the problems would be resolved and there would be no further need for these enforcement-related provisions: however, it proved necessary to extend these in 1970, and again in 1975 and 1982. They were set to expire in August 2007, but were extended for another 25 years with the July 2007 reauthorization vote...

[Because]...the hearings held in 2005 and 2006 in the House and Senate found a new generation of tactics...which have had a discriminatory impact on voters, especially racial and ethnic minority American voters...H.R. 9 was introduced with strong bipartisan support in the House and the Senate to...allow the federal government to address these new challenges. [i] "

However, despite these responsible efforts, on June 25, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional, finding that the 40 year old facts underlying the coverage formula have "no logical relationship to the present day. [ii] " An assertion of questionable validity being the product of a 5-4 vote. [iii] And an assertion Black Americans know to be patently false having been subjected to the vote-denying reality inherent in these new tactics.

My companion article: "Black Lives Matter: The Problem of Citizenship," raises the issue of "acceptance" with regard to citizenship and links that acceptance to a commitment to nurture. It states:

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Eric Z. Lucas is an alumnus of Stanford University (Creative Writing Major: 1972-1975), the University of Washington (1981: BA English Literature and Elementary Education) and Harvard Law School, J.D. 1986. Since law school he has been a public (more...)
 

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