Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at a rally for the Voting Rights Amendment Act hosted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The rally marked the one year anniversary since the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which removed important voter protections. Below is a transcript of remarks:
“‘Thank you very much, Wade [Henderson]. You know, I'm looked at as a civil leader in the House of Representatives, but I am a militant for civil rights, a militant for voters’ rights, and I have walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with my friend [Rep.] John Lewis and so many people that are here, including [Democratic Leader] Nancy Pelosi and [Rep.] Steve Cohen.
“We need to be militants today, non-violent militants. Peaceful militants, but impatient militants. Demanding militants, that America is what it is because Americans have the right, inherent right - ‘we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men and women are created equal’ - and have the right in our democracy to vote, to express their opinion, to speak out, and to be heard.
“….We’re not finding a gavel [today] to come down on the table and say the ‘Voting Rights [Amendment] Act is on the Floor for consideration,’ because we know that a majority of the Members of the House of Representatives will vote for the Voting Rights [Amendment] Act.
“Fifty years ago and four months, [Rep.] John Lewis walked across that bridge. Two weeks later, Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of others from all over this country – white and black, Latino, gay and straight, poor and rich – walked across that bridge and said to Washington: ‘We need a Voting Rights Act. We need the right to vote, which is inherent in being a democracy.’
“Young people, you weren’t alive. Nancy [Pelosi] points out that we were. But the fact of the matter is you're alive today, you’re here today, and you can make a difference today with your voice and your feet and your demonstrations and your demands – peaceful demands in a democracy – that your Congress be representative of all the people. And tell them that, notwithstanding fifty years ago, there was a march, and on July 2, two days before Independence Day, America, in a bipartisan way, came together and said every American should have the right to vote - and, by the way, we're going to make sure you don’t discriminate in your state, in your jurisdiction, that prevents people from voting directly or indirectly. July 2, , and then a year ago, after the House of Representatives just a few years back just passed overwhelmingly an authorization to continue that guarantee of the vote to every American.
“In that building, five men [on the Supreme Court] said we’re going to weaken that guarantee in America, the greatest democracy on Earth. You’re here so we can pass in [the House wing of the Capitol] building and in [the Senate wing of the Capitol] building and send down to the building on 16th and Pennsylvania Avenue a bill that will say to [the Supreme Court] we still believe that every American must have the right – unfettered and appreciated – right to vote. With your help we’ll get it done.”