As the court prepares to hear oral arguments surrounding Section V of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, Congresswoman Lee gave the following statement:
“Thank you all of the Members of Congress for being here, and to the Tri-Caucus for standing united on our fundamental democratic rights. We are here today to protect the most effective civil rights legislation ever enacted by Congress, The Voting Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Act was passed just one year after I graduated high school. Where I was born and raised, El Paso, Texas, I vividly remember the days of Jim Crow, segregation, and the poll tax.
Even now, in 2013, discrimination is still haunting us. It’s not in the form of a poll tax, but it’s in the cost of waiting in line for 7, 8, 9 hours just to vote. We should be making it easier for participation in this democratic process, not harder.
We still need the Voting Rights Act. We still need to be vigilant about protecting our full democratic right to vote. That right is the heart and soul of our democracy, and we must defend it; we will not go back. Voting is at the heart of our democracy and we must constantly fight to protect it when threatened.
We encourage and support democratic movements around the world, yet here in our own country, these rights are being eroded each and every day.
So we stand on these steps to demand the most valuable right, the most central right, the right that makes America the nation that it is, the right to vote. I call on every American to stand up and join us in the call to protect the right of every American to cast their vote.
As our great Drum Major for Justice, Dr. King once said: "Voting is the foundation stone for political action." Truly, our votes are the bedrock of democracy. We will not bow to voter suppression. These are our rights. We won't budge.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a former Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and currently serves as CPC Whip and Chair of the Taskforce on Global Peace and Security.