Yesterday’s march, with lessons for today

March 7, 1965, is a day to remember.

That was never a problem for 90-year-old Ora Bell Shannon of Selma, Ala., then a young mother who ran with her children from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, or for Betty Boynton, who could see the tear gas rising and baton-wielding state troopers beating peaceful marchers.

Civil rights activists — among them Amelia Boynton, Betty Boynton’s mother-in-law, and a young John Lewis — put their bodies on the line to create the headlines and the international shock that forced action from Washington. In truth, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 simply put teeth into the enforcement of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, ignored by state and local governments intent on blocking African Americans from the ballot box.

Back then, it was about the right to vote, and in 2022, it is still about the right to vote, reinforced by the hard-won Voting Rights Act of 1965 but increasingly under attack by state laws placing obstacles in the way of those least able to overcome them.

As many, including Vice President Kamala Harris, traveled to Selma this past Sunday to commemorate what has become known as “Bloody Sunday,” the landscape has changed in a country where many have lost the ability to be shocked or to find common cause with citizens different from themselves.

 It is a world where, as Senate Democrats hold their annual issues conference at Howard University in Washington, elevating the excellence of that institution, students seeking an education at historically Black colleges and universities face bomb threats.

It’s easy to forget that in the not-that-distant past, the annual ceremony in Selma, including a symbolic march across the bridge named for a Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader, had been bipartisan. In 2015, a chastened Kevin McCarthy, then House majority leader, attended the 50th anniversary of the historic march in Selma after initial reports that no GOP congressional leaders would be there.

‘Beat them in court, beat them in Congress and beat them at the polls’

On the one year anniversary of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the administration woke up to it’s fifth defeat in six months in passing legislation to ensure voting rights for all. Biden had promised to put voting rights at the top of his agenda, but the path appears more fraught than ever. Mary C. Curtis speaks with White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond on what comes next.

Why Marc Morial is ‘damn worried’ about the state of American democracy

The new infrastructure law and the larger budget reconciliation bill that are part of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda have pushed the issue of voting rights out of the spotlight.

This comes after the Senate blocked debate on a bill named after the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, which would restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that have been struck down by the Supreme Court since 2013. Vice President Kamala Harris recently called the right to vote the cornerstone of our democracy. As states across the country enact restrictive voting laws, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer has insisted that voting rights legislation is a priority, even if it means eliminating the filibuster. But it’s unclear whether there’s enough support for taking that step.

Now, civil rights groups have issued a scorecard that rates every senator on their records on voting rights and their willingness to end the filibuster.

One of the organizations behind the move is the National Urban League. CEO Marc Morial recently joined the Equal Time podcast to offer his take on voting rights, democracy and even infrastructure.

A transcript, edited for clarity and brevity:

Voting Rights, Student Loans, and FDA Approved COVID Vax

Panelists Mary C. Curtis, Jessica Holmes, and Dawn Blagrove weigh in on the recent rule of NC judges to eliminate the waiting period and give formerly convicted individuals the right to vote, effective immediately, and the impact of Biden’s moves to reduce student debt. Dr. C. Nicole Swiner offers her take on the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine, booster shots, and family politics of COVID.

MLK III: ‘Listen with your ears, hear with your heart’

Martin Luther King III joins Equal Time to talk with Mary C. Curtis about his father’s “I have a dream” speech, voting rights today and personal memories of his father. Fifty-eight years after his father’s iconic words, MLK III joins John Lewis’ family and others to galvanize the nation to, once again, ensure voting rights for all Americans.

Clyburn: Pass voting bills or Democrats will lose majorities

As a young civil rights activist, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn was involved in protests that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act. Now, the 81-year-old Democrat from South Carolina, whose endorsement is widely credited with helping Joe Biden turn around his bid for the 2020 presidential nomination, says Congress needs to act to stop a new assault on voting.

The House has passed one sweeping bill — dubbed HR 1, or the For the People Act — that sets standards for voting and overhauls campaign finance and ethics law. But an attempt to bring it up was defeated in the Senate. Another measure — dubbed HR 4, or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — is being drafted in the House and getting attention in the Senate. Clyburn joined CQ Roll Call’s Equal Time podcast last month to discuss what’s at stake and how he expects it to play out. An edited transcript:

Reporters’ Roundtable

We’re at the Reporters’ Roundtable with a look at some of the top stories of the week.  On deck tonight… a pedestrian bridge collapse in dc,  President Biden announces a crack down crime and illegal guns.  Capitol Hill politics, voting rights, DC statehood, Loudoun County schools and an active NFL player comes out.

With freedom rides and ‘states’ rights’ refrains, old times in America are not forgotten

Buses of civil rights demonstrators are on the road carrying Americans who want to send a message to their political leaders. They want to add their voices to the Washington debates over stalled infrastructure legislation, voting rights protections and every important discussion that could affect participation in democracy.

Shades of the 1960s activism that spurred history-making laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, all steps toward a more inclusive country — the goal, unfulfilled, in the idealistic words of America’s founding documents.

An unfortunate throwback also front and center is the opposition, exalting the primacy of “states’ rights.” It is not showing out in the violence that met the earlier bus occupants at stop after stop. But that familiar phrase or the sentiment animating it, the condemnation of interference from the big, bad federal government so dear to the heart of obstructionists back then, was the refrain from Republican senators who on Tuesday voted down any attempt to discuss proposed legislation that would protect the fundamental franchise for all.

Mary C. Curtis: Calls to Boycott Georgia Over New Voting Law

CHARLOTTE, NC — Growing calls from sports and businesses to boycott Georgia over the state’s new voting law.

Justice groups are urging sports organizations, like the PGA tour and major league baseball, to reconsider holding upcoming major events in the state.

Delta airlines and Coca-Cola, two of Atlanta’s biggest brands, are also facing boycott threats.

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis discusses will the effort work.

You can catch Mary C. Curtis on Sunday nights at 6:30 PM on WCCB Charlotte’s CW discussing the biggest issues in local and national politics and also giving us a look at what’s ahead for the week.

You can also check out Mary’s podcast ‘Equal Time.’

Reform Redo, Evolving Elections & the Voice of Black Women

Mary C. Curtis (columnist for “Roll Call” & host of the “Equal Time” podcast), attorney and political analyst Jessica Holmes, and writer Courtney Napier break down some of the week’s headlines through the eyes of Black women. Marcella Howard (In Our Own Voice) and Omisade Burney-Scott (“Black Girls’ Guide to Surviving Menopause”) also break down the growing reproductive justice movement.