FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
27 February 2013
For More Information: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, 919-394-8137
Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Executive Director, 919-682-4700
WASHINGTON, DC – A NC NAACP delegation of students and local organizers traveled to Washington, DC today to join a rally outside the US Supreme Court in defense of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A case out of Alabama challenging the constitutionality of Section Five of the VRA was before the US Supreme Court today. NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II was one of the featured speakers in the morning rally. Rev. Barber also appeared on MSNBC during the rally, which can be viewed here. Rev. Barber’s statement is below and can be downloaded by clicking here:
Statement made by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II,
President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and
Chair of the Political Action Committee of the NAACP National Board of Directors
On the Steps of the U.S. Supreme Court
February 27, 2013 – 10:00 AM
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? –Matthew 7:15
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." –1st Corinthians 15:58
When this nation began, the right to vote was denied to women, poor whites and African Americans. In 1870, after a bloody civil war, the 15h Amendment was ratified which provided: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
In 1872, only a few years after the First Reconstruction was put in place, white supremacists, fearing a new political reality, attacked our ancestor’s new voting rights violently and unconstitutionally. By 1900, black voting in the south was virtually wiped out.
During the Second Reconstruction, the modern Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s, blacks and whites and others came together to change this nation again. Together, our parents’ generation moved the moral arc of history toward justice again. White supremacists, fearing a new political reality, organized as Dixiecrats and attacked our voting rights violently. They argued states’ rights because they feared the Supreme Court had begun to enforce the 15th Amendment. It was then they started their modern Southern Strategy to make the south an unbreakable solid block for their ultra-conservative, regressive political ideology.
Now, ten days before the anniversary of Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama, we come to the Supreme Court. We are pleased to announce there are changing demographics in the south. A new fusion politics is emerging in North Carolina and other southern areas. Blacks, whites, Latinos, the young and the elderly working and voting together. A Third Reconstruction is starting. New political alignments are being formed. The Solid South is cracking.
We are here to announce Section Five of the Voting Rights Act has just begun to bear fruit. We are on the threshold of the goals of the Voting Rights Act which would change our nation like some have never wanted to see it changed. They know the only way to stop this change, is to stop our vote. The only way are voter ID schemes. The only way is to roll back preclearance. The only way is to implement race-based redistricting schemes. They know they cannot do all of this as long as Section Five of the Voting Rights Act is in the way. The Koch brothers’ money won’t work as long as Section Five is in the way. Rush Limbaugh’s lies won’t work as long as Section Five is in the way.
James Crow Esquire, with his computer in the back room drawing illegal lines of voting districts, to stack, pack, bleach and undermine the power and potential of the black vote united with other progressives won’t work as long as Section Five is in the way. They want to cheat so bad, but Section Five is in the way.
So their goal is to remove preclearance. To clear the way for an all-out attack on voting rights. To stop America and democracy from moving forward.
So we must say not on our watch!
Not after all the blood that’s been shed!
Not after the marches that have been marched!
Not after the struggles that have been endured!
Not after the pain that has been inflicted!
Not after the tears that have been shed!
Not after the dreams that have been deferred!
Not on our watch!
Shelby is our Selma!
Alabama is North Carolina!
Alabama today is America!
We must stand together and we fight back
Yesterday, February 26th, marked the first anniversary of the killing of Trayvon Martin. It marked the 48th anniversary of the killing Jimmie Lee Jackson in Alabama in 1965. Trayvon was trying to walk home.
Jimmie Lee Jackson was trying to register people to vote and protest for justice. Ordained in the summer of 1964, Jimmie Lee Jackson was a deacon of the St. James Baptist Church in Marion, Alabama. Jackson had tried to register to vote without success for four years. Jackson was inspired by Dr. King who had touched off a campaign against Alabama voting restrictions on black people and attended meetings several nights per week at Zion’s Chapel Methodist Church. His desire to vote ultimately led to Jackson’s death at the hands of an Alabama State Trooper and to the inspiration for the Selma to Montgomery marches.
Both were killed for doing something that should have been normal. They shed blood doing what should have been without risk–normal.
We shouldn’t have to fight for voting rights . . . but we will. We shouldn’t have to fight and march just to be safe on the streets . . . but we will. We shouldn’t have to fight to preserve the Voting Rights Act . . . but we will. We shouldn’t have to fight for the vote to be protected, it should be normal, it should be as American as apple pie, it should be as normal as breathing, but racism and regressivism is not normal.
Since we have to fight, we will fight consistently, we will march continually, we will file law suits, we will speak forthrightly, we will stand defiantly, we will demand justice persistently, we will fight, we will fight, we will fight until justice rolls down like waters.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.