March 08, 2015

Gillibrand Statement On 50th Anniversary Of “Bloody Sunday” Selma March For Equal Voting Rights

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement today in honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Selma march for equal voting rights:

“Today we honor the 50th anniversary of a monumental event in American history. On that Sunday in Selma, Alabama, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the forces of racism and progress met in a bloody clash that jolted our country forward.

“In 2013, I had the honor and privilege to walk hand-in-hand with Congressman John Lewis, one of America’s most respected civil rights icons, over that same bridge, to retrace with him the steps of the Bloody Sunday March. When we walked, I thought about the men and women who cared so deeply about freedom and equality in this country that they were willing to risk their lives for them, and I reflected on how far our nation has come in its pursuit of civil rights and equal justice. 

“One of the most sacred rights we have as Americans, and one of the marchers’ primary motivations that day in Selma, is the right to vote. Two years ago, the United States Supreme Court gutted a major provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had for decades determined which states and localities must get federal approval, or preclearance, before they change their local voting laws. Within hours of the Supreme Court decision to dismantle this provision, Texas went forward with a discriminatory voter ID law. New local election procedures in the future could disenfranchise voters in New York and all across the nation.

“Congress must act quickly to restore the Voting Rights Act. I urge my colleagues to pass a bipartisan, legislative solution that would give every American complete, unobstructed, and equal access to the ballot box. And in addition to protecting the basic right to vote, we urgently need to modernize our voting system. Last Congress, I joined with my friend Congressman John Lewis to introduce legislation that would bring our voter registration system into the 21st century and end voter suppression.

“As we honor the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March in Selma, it’s time to put political differences aside and ensure that all New Yorkers, and all Americans, have their voices heard in the political process, regardless of who they are or where they live, and have the right to vote without intimidation or obstruction.”