Black Civic Organizations Rate U.S. Senators on Commitment to Real Equity

Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. Image: Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic.

For more than a year, the United States Senate has been embroiled in key legislative debates that directly affect the Black community. In September the hundred-member body failed to reach an agreement on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and as of today, have yet to reach an agreement on voting rights. A cohort of Black civil rights organizations is saying enough is enough and has released a scorecard in an effort to move like-minded citizens to demand their lawmakers take action.

The first-ever Senate scorecard was spearheaded by the NAACP and was in partnership with the National Action Network, National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, Fighting for Our Vote Initiative, National Council of Negro Women, and the National Urban League. Upon its release, Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, noted that the country is now in a “war for our democracy,” pointing to the American Recovery Act, Freedom to Vote Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and each Senator’s support for eliminating the filibuster as reasoning for their grade. 

“It is time we put Senators jeopardizing our civil rights on notice,” Johnson added. “We must be loud and clear, all across the nation, that we will not rest until voting rights for all are restored. This Congress must use any means possible to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

The Freedom To Vote measure was first introduced in Congress in September by a group of Democratic Senators, and hones in on basic freedoms that are currently unprotected in today’s partisan climate. The measure looks to disable gerrymandering, a tool that continues to be overused by the Right in an effort to win elections and ultimately sideline certain communities. It’s also inclusive of voter roll purges, campaign finance laws, and efforts being employed to restrict eligible voters’ access to the polls. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 (H.R. 4) seeks to reinforce parts of the original Voting Rights Act of 1965 and put an end to discriminatory voting practices that disadvantage certain voters. 

National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial believe the efforts against Black voters are indicative of the collective voice Black women have raised, as well as their successful efforts to change the face of politics all across the nation. “As Black women are the most politically energized voters, playing a crucial role in engaging and mobilizing others to participate,” Morial tells EBONY, “the Civil Rights Scorecard highlights the anti-democratic backlash against their growing influence and empowerment.”

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