CLINTON, MD – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) tonight hosted a Community Voting Rights Forum in Clinton, Maryland to discuss efforts to protect voting rights in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the importance of civic engagement in the community. The special guest for the forum was civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) who marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in March of 1965 in support of the right to vote.
“On August 6, the Voting Rights Act turned 50, a milestone anniversary on which we celebrate the promise of American democracy while remembering that our nation has not always lived up to that promise,” stated Congressman Steny Hoyer. “The movement that led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 could not have succeeded without the passion, determination, and courage of individuals like my friend John Lewis. The Voting Rights Act has never been more important than it is today, just as it has never been under greater threat after the Supreme Court struck down a key part of it that enabled the Justice Department to protect voters against discrimination in those places with a history of voter suppression. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress when it returns in September to keep pressing for action on legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act.”
“The vote is the most powerful non-violent tool for change we have in a democratic society. Every person has a right to have a say in their own future,” said Congressman John Lewis (D-GA). “That is why we must restore the Voting Rights Act so that all Americans have equal access to the ballot box.”
“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped bring to an end numerous state laws and procedures that had denied African-Americans and other minorities their constitutional right to vote. Sadly, in 2015, we are seeing some of those same nefarious practices rise from the dead,” said Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). “I am a proud co-sponsor of S. 1659, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, which responds to current conditions in voting today by restoring the full protections of the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was significantly weakened by the Supreme Court in 2013. In addition, I introduced the BALTIMORE Act to build on the original intent of the Voting Rights Act by ensuring that returning citizens looking to play a positive role in their communities are no longer denied the vote.”
“The ability to vote and have one’s vote count are fundamental elements of our great democracy,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD). “As our nation faces vital issues like growing economic, racial, and gender inequality, we must do everything in our power to protect the voting rights of all Americans."
The forum was moderated by Pastor Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church. Other speakers included U.S. Senator Ben Cardin; Congressman Elijah Cummings; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks; and Lawrence Stafford, Executive Director of Progressive Maryland.