Congressional Black Caucusby Representative Al Green
Posted on 2015-02-02
GREEN of Texas. Thank you, Mr. Payne.
Mr. Speaker, because time is of the essence, please allow me to get right to my message.
Where were we in 1965? I will relate this to Congress. In 1965, when they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, there were five African American Members of Congress. Now there are 48. In 1965, there were four Latino Members of Congress. Now there are 38. There were three Asian Americans in Congress. Now we have a total of 14. There were 14 women in Congress. We now have 104.
Where were we? We were at a point in our history when it was turning for us, but it was a bloody point in our history because, when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, he signed it in ink, but it was written in blood. It was written in the blood of the people who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in the blood of the people who lived and died so that some of us could have these opportunities to serve in the Congress of the United States of America. That is where we were.
We have progressed. We have more Members of Congress, but in a true sense, it is back to the future because we have seen the evisceration of section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which emasculated section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, meaning you don't have any States or any territories under section 4 so you cannot preclear them under section 5. We are now back to a point wherein we have to find a way to revitalize and to reinstate section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.
I am sorry that the time has run out, but I do want to say this: if we with only five Members of Congress could get a Voting Rights Act passed, one would think that with 48 we can get it reinstated.