On the 40th anniversary of the VRA’s passage, Jesse Jackson led a march and rally in Atlanta with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), other members of Congress and activists. Bringing attention to reauthorization is a good thing. Bringing attention through misguided political attacks, name calling and race baiting and is a bad thing. Consider some of the following examples.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) stated, “We are here to take on President Bush and Dick Cheney.” Actor Harry Belafonte called Black Republicans in the Bush administration “Black tyrants.” Perennial parader Jesse Jackson said, “Race baiters and discriminators may go underground, but they never move out of town.”
Activist Greg Mathis called for reauthorization on the grounds that the Bush administration and Republicans are “the enemy of our progress.” He added, “They shot and missed when they enslaved, segregated and oppressed our people. They shot and missed when they stole the past two presidential elections. They shot and missed when they denied our right to vote.”
Mathis might want to check his history book. The VRA was opposed in 1965 by nearly every Southern Democrat, and it was Democrats who formed the Ku Klux Klan in the 1800s to terrorize and lynch Blacks who dared register to vote or vote for Republicans.
So what’s the problem here? The problem is that the Democrats have no domestic centerpiece issue for 2006, so they are borrowing one from 2007, the year the VRA must be reauthorized. Let’s first get the facts straight on the VRA, even though most Democratic leaders want to ignore them.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) prohibits racial discrimination in voting, registering to vote, and drawing new congressional districts. Though the VRA applies to the entire nation, it contains special provisions for specific counties and nine states that in 1965 were most responsible for denying citizens of racial minorities access to the polls. Under the VRA, the specific states, counties and other voting jurisdictions must submit to the U.S. Department of Justice proposed changes in their voting procedures to ensure that proposed changes are not discriminatory.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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