Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights Marchby Representative Marc A. Veasey
Posted on 2015-02-02
VEASEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Beatty for yielding. I
would also like to thank my colleagues Donald Payne and Robin Kelly for
putting together something that we really need to talk about, and I am
glad that the theme here is 50 years from Selma, where we are, where we
are headed, because I think it is important that we have that
I oftentimes hear people say in conjunction when you talk about civil rights, you know, we need to move on, we need to get over it, it was the past, it happened a long time ago. But we know that we can learn a lot from the past. We know that we can learn a lot about where we are going by studying our history.
So I am really glad that during this Black History Month that just started in February that we are able to reconnect and take the opportunity to talk more about our community's past and the challenges that we face, and Selma really provides us with a great vehicle to do that.
I think about an event that I attended several years ago when I was in the State legislature, and I was talking to the audience and mentioning some of the schools in the Fort Worth Independent School District and around the State of Texas that were segregated. After I got done talking, I was really dismayed that one of the reporters came up to me that was younger than me but had graduated from school in Fort Worth ISD, had graduated 9 years after I did, and she said: I was raised in Fort Worth, and I graduated from a school in Fort Worth, but I didn't know that the schools were ever segregated here.
You see how quickly it is that the history can disappear and fade away if it is not kept alive; and I think that that is one of the reasons why I am really excited about Selma and the opportunity to talk about this more, because we really do need to make sure that we keep our youth reconnected with the past or we know that it will fade away.
Then, also, when you start talking about where we are headed, and it has been mentioned tonight, I would like to say that we are headed to someplace more positive, someplace that is for the betterment of all Americans. But we know that there are many mechanisms out there that are being designed and implemented by State legislatures all around the country to impede one's right to vote.
You can look no further than the State that I am very proud of, my own State of Texas, but we have some serious issues. I mean, when you look at redistricting in the State of Texas, when you look at the voter ID laws that were passed in the State of Texas, I mean, right now in the State of Texas you cannot vote with a State-issued ID, but you can vote with a concealed handgun license.
It is just rules like that that are being implemented and put in place that we know are designed to be a barrier to people voting, the same types of barriers that were put in place, maybe a little bit differently, maybe with a smile on their face, but we know that the goal is to do exactly what was done in Selma 50 years ago, and it is to prevent people from voting.
So, again, I want to thank the Congresswoman from Ohio and I want to thank my colleagues from Illinois and from New Jersey for putting this together. We need to talk about history. It is not the past. It really is still the present, something similar to what Faulkner said.
We need to continue to have these discussions and share these stories with our young people, but I think more importantly that we need to put them in the perspective from today because many of these battles we know that we are still fighting.
So I am glad that I am able to share this with everyone, and I hope that all Members, regardless of where they are from, regardless of what their party is, that they can think about what happened 50 years ago when the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge happened, and this is something we can all learn from.
I want to thank Mrs. Beatty for allowing me to have a few words.