60Th Anniversary of Montgomery Bus Boycottby Representative Terri A. Sewell
Posted on 2015-12-08
SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in recognition and
acknowledgement of Restoration Tuesday and to recognize the 60th
anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. There has been, Mr. Speaker,
a renewed and relentless assault on our sacred right to vote in the
aftermath of the Supreme Court's ruling in Shelby County v. Holder.
Since elections are held on Tuesdays, my colleagues in the Democratic House caucus and I have declared that every Tuesday that the House is in session shall be declared as Restoration Tuesday. So I stand before you and this august body today in hopes of giving a voice to those who have been excluded from our political process. My hope is that all the Members, Members from both sides of the aisle, will join me and over 140 Members of this august body in supporting the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
This Voting Rights Advancement Act not only restores the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but it advances it. It gives more protection to more people in more States and is, indeed, what our Founding Fathers would have wanted when they declared that our electoral process would be fair.
I think that the events of last week--we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in my district, in Montgomery, Alabama, last week. The Montgomery Bus Boycott--the 381 days when people refused to sit and use the buses in Montgomery, breaking desegregation of the bus systems in Montgomery--it stands forever as a powerful testimony of the will of disenfranchised people to work collectively to achieve extraordinary social change.
Sixty years ago, Mr. Speaker, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus, and her bold stand against racial discrimination sparked a city-wide boycott. I was in Montgomery to commemorate that occasion, along with several Members of this House. I want to thank Congressman Butterfield and Congresswoman Corrine Brown for joining me last week in that celebration, along with Congressman John Lewis, who forever stands as a beacon, a reminder of what it takes to show strength in the face of discrimination.
Mr. Speaker, I say to all of my colleagues, what will we do to progress this wonderful legacy of social change and democracy? So many average, ordinary Americans have stood up for that proposition in the face of tremendous adversity.
So it is my hope that on this Restoration Tuesday, we will remember their legacy, the legacy of Americans who stand up for social change, and we will do what we know is right to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We can do that today, Mr. Speaker, by joining with all of the 140 or so Members of Congress who have already signed on to the Voting Rights Advancement Act; by remembering that on Tuesdays across this country, people go to vote, and they should do so without barriers, knowing that their polling stations will not be changed, knowing that if they are disabled, they will still be able to get into the ballot box in order to vote. It is so important that we all recognize that modern day barriers still exists to voting, Mr. Speaker.
Mere words are not enough to restore the vote to millions of Americans who have wrongly been shut out of the Democratic process. The voice of those excluded cannot be unheard. The Voting Rights Advancement Act that I introduced alongside Representatives Judy Chu and Linda Sanchez contains a modern-day formula that will determine jurisdictions which should have Federal protections, Federal pre- clearance requirements.
I stand here before you to call on Congress to pass this bill to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We cannot return to the days where only some votes matter. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, all voices, all votes matter. Our vote is our voice, and our voices must be heard.