We have hit the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), signed into law by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson on August 6, 1965. As we watch GOP attacks on our democracy and the right to vote unfold across the country, this anniversary is a chance to reflect on the long struggle to win the right to vote for all Americans, and all that is at stake if we do not protect this right.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act represented a crucial step forward. On the day the law was signed by President Johnson, four states still required a poll tax to register to vote. In the years that followed, the VRA fought back at the harassment, intimidation and institutionalized disenfranchisement that had been permitted to degrade American democracy for decades.
We must recognize that the attacks on voting we witness today are just as sinister as poll taxes and arbitrary literacy tests. 56 years on, the work continues. Barriers to voting ranging from voter ID requirements to shuttered polling places are in place.
Hard work is required to face down all the new ways the GOP is dreaming up to reinstitute the suppression that the Voting Rights Act was enacted to stop. From organizing to pushing for reform in Congress, there’s a lot we can do ensure history isn’t allowed to continue repeating itself. But the most important thing we can all do is what the opponents of voter freedoms fear most: we can vote and help others do so..
Remembering Richard Trumka, a Champion for Unions
We were all saddened to learn of the August 5th passing of Richard Trumka, longtime president of the AFL-CIO and a giant in the history of American organized labor. He was 72. Trumka, a third-generation coal miner from Pennsylvania, has led the AFL-CIO since 2009.
Back in July 2015, when Scott Walker announced he was running for president, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement of just six words: “Scott Walker is a national disgrace.” 70 days and $6.4 million later, Walker’s campaign collapsed and Trumka chimed in again: “Scott Walker is still a disgrace, just no longer national.” And in 2018, when Scott Walker was finally ousted from the governor’s office, Richard Trumka got the last word: “Scott Walker was a national disgrace.”
Richard Trumka brought the same fight to Scott Walker that he brought to the struggles of working people across America. He will be deeply missed, but his legacy lives on in all we do.
Wisconsin Democratic Party Executive Director Nellie Sires said it powerfully:
“Today Wisconsin Democrats mourn the loss of a giant. Richard Trumka was a champion for working families here in Wisconsin and across the nation.
“Trumka understood that good union jobs are the backbone that built America’s middle class. A born fighter, he went to bat for workers every day of his career, and he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Wisconsin families in the fight against Scott Walker’s disgraceful anti-worker policies. We have all been bettered by his work, and his memory will live on in our own work to advance the dignity of working people.”