Under discover remarks as delivered by Vice President Kamala Harris to Brown Chapel AME Church in commemoration of “Bloody Sunday.” Chances are you’ll watch the remarks here.
Remarks as delivered:
Reverend Leodis Sturdy, Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, members of Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, associates—it’s an honor to affix you as we commemorate the 56th anniversary of the Selma Bridge Crossing.
Three years in the past, I spoke out of your pulpit. I used to be there within the pews final 12 months once I joined Congressman John Lewis on his annual civil rights pilgrimage.
I used to be with him on what could be his remaining stroll throughout the Edmund Pettus Bridge. And I’ll maintain that reminiscence without end in my coronary heart.
I’m sorry we couldn’t collect collectively in Selma this 12 months. And I’m sorry Congressman Lewis is now not with us. I do know we are going to all mourn and miss him each day.
However, associates, I’m right here to let you know that his spirit lives inside all of us, and we all know that. And the spirit of Selma lives in us.
You recognize, a month earlier than the 1965 bridge crossing, a gaggle of academics—Black academics—who taught their college students about civics, however who couldn’t train their very own proper to vote—effectively, they took motion. A couple of hundred academics, union members, marching facet by facet, put their jobs on the road. Their paychecks. Their pensions.
They marched to the Dallas County Courthouse to register to vote. And after they have been barred from coming into, they returned the place? Effectively after all, to Brown Chapel.
A couple of weeks later, the 100 academics grew to become 600 activists, marching throughout that bridge.
And some weeks after that, 600 grew to become 2,000, headed for Montgomery.
And by the point they acquired there, they have been 50,000 robust.
And it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into legislation, serving to hundreds of thousands of Individuals train their proper to vote.
I say this to remind us—all of us—of our personal company. Of our personal capability to vary the world.
You don’t want some huge cash or 1,000,000 individuals. However you do want a righteous trigger and an entire lot of resolve.
Pals, there isn’t any trigger extra righteous than the precise to vote.
It’s the proper that unlocks so many different rights. The fitting to be handled with dignity at work. The fitting to a high-quality public schooling.
The fitting to inexpensive healthcare—which couldn’t be extra essential in the midst of a pandemic that’s stealing away Black lives at a devastating price.
After we solid a poll, we determine our leaders. After we solid a poll, we decide our future.
The academics of Selma, they knew that. John Lewis knew that.
And so did Diane Nash and C.T. Vivian, and Amelia Boynton Robinson, and Hosea Williams.
And so did my mom and father who marched for voting rights and civil rights in Oakland, California, whereas pushing me in a stroller.
Everyone knows the ability of the poll. And we all know, too, that efforts persist to take that energy away.
At the moment, ballot taxes have been traded for lengthy voting strains. Property possession restrictions for purges of voter rolls. Literacy exams for voter ID legal guidelines. Voter registration restrictions. Mail-in voting limitations. Cuts to early voting. Precinct closures. Gerrymandering.
It’s all voter suppression by every other title.
In 2013, the Voting Rights Act was gutted by the Supreme Court docket determination Shelby County v. Holder. That call opened the floodgates.
Nearly instantly, states put in place legal guidelines to discriminate and to create obstacles to voting—focused at individuals of coloration, focused at Native Individuals, focused at college students. And focused at Black voters.
When certainly one of these legal guidelines in North Carolina was challenged, the courtroom stated it focused Black Individuals “with virtually surgical precision.” These have been the phrases of the courtroom: “surgical precision.”
It has now been over 7 years for the reason that Shelby determination, and the efforts to suppress have solely elevated.
We’re a bit greater than two months into 2021. And in early February of this 12 months, greater than 150 payments to limit voting had already been launched in additional than 30 state legislatures.
That’s 4 occasions as many as the identical time final 12 months.
So we’ve to inform the reality about these efforts: They’re definitely not designed to guard our elections. They don’t defend our democracy. And the one objective they serve is to chop individuals out. To go away individuals out. To aim to silence individuals.
Effectively, President Joe Biden and I would like be sure that we deliver individuals in. That we see individuals, and that we hear them.
Whilst our work to go our American Rescue Plan will get beneath means, and whereas we get vaccines distributed throughout the nation and ship aid to those that are hurting from this pandemic, we’ve not taken our eye off the precise to vote and the combat to take care of everybody’s proper to vote.
At the moment, the President signed an government order to leverage the assets of the federal authorities to make it simpler for voters to register.
We urge the Senate to observe the Home’s lead and go the For the Individuals Act, which incorporates measures like automated voter registration that can assist increase voting rights.
We additionally urge Congress to go the John Lewis Voting Rights Development Act, to totally restore the Voting Rights Act for as soon as and for all.
The American individuals need to vote. Have a proper to vote. In actual fact, within the final election, extra Individuals voted than ever earlier than.
Individuals in the present day need to vote for a similar cause the Selma academics marched to that courthouse: To have a say of their lives. To have a say in what occurs to them, and the individuals of their neighborhood.
As a result of as residents of this nation, all of us have a proper to be heard and to have our vote rely.
And our legal guidelines ought to make it simpler—no more troublesome—to train that proper.
For me, all of it comes right down to that little little bit of Scripture—that Golden Rule: “Love thy neighbor.”
Carrying a masks is loving thy neighbor. Getting vaccinated is loving thy neighbor. And voting is loving thy neighbor.
So let’s combat for the precise to vote, understanding it’s an extension of the love of our neighborhood and our nation.
And that’s the combat that unites us now. It’s that combat that connects us to our previous.
Understanding that historical past is a relay race—and what began with 100 academics grew to tens of 1000’s of marchers, after which tens of hundreds of thousands of voters who solid a poll final 12 months.
The baton in that relay race is now in our arms. So allow us to keep in mind, our trigger is righteous. Our resolve is powerful. Our spirit is mighty. So allow us to carry on within the custom of Selma and John Lewis.
Thanks all, and should God bless you, and should God bless America.