Calls for greater equality are all the rage among many candidates for the highest office in the land. For Lawrence Lessig, a widely admired advocate for campaign finance reform who just threw his hat in the ring, "citizen equality" is what matters.
The Black Lives Matter movement promised to be the medicine to our ailment: to take racism head on and crush it.
Despite all the social and economic progress since the events in Watts, and after the civil unrest that followed the Rodney King beating trial verdicts, it seems the more things change, the more they remain the same.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 was introduced in June to put teeth back into the VRA and restore the preclearance requirement by modernizing the coverage formula. While Congress has yet to schedule a hearing date on for this legislation, it is important to continue using other avenues to protect voting rights.
Following in the footsteps of the civil rights leaders who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, we are left with the challenge to discover our own leadership mission and cultivate the moral courage to advance leadership for social justice.
This law was the culmination of many bloody years of activism on behalf of the African-American community and their allies. Today, I am privileged to serve alongside Congressman John Lewis -- a dear friend of mine who played a pivotal role in securing the right to vote.
We stand with the President and other defenders of equality in urging protection of the Voting Rights Act. Let's be clear: The recent laws passed in many states to restrict voting rights are not about reducing "voter fraud." They are meant simply to erect barriers to voting for people of color.
Through these five decades, the VRA has remained a valuable and relevant tool because despite substantial progress in civil rights, our work is not yet done. On several fronts, Latinos continue to be the target of efforts to limit participation in the voting booth.
As we commemorate this singular achievement of the Civil Rights Movement and think about the inspiring stories of the people who worked to pass this legislation, the Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN) sought to revisit the numbers behind the VRA's most innovative and transformative provision.
Numerous acts -- killings of Michael Brown and others, persistence by some in waving the confederate flag high, the burning of Black churches -- indicate that the ideals of our American society have not yet fully born out, and that there is more we need to do to establish a just society in which all have a say.
The progress made possible by the Voting Rights Act is undeniable. But as we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we still have work to do. Voting rights are once again under attack. We must remain committed.
But while election modernization has helped break down barriers, it won't fix the gap in protections for minority voters. We can't have a truly modern voting system if our voting rights laws lack the power to stop states from enacting 21st Century equivalents of poll taxes the VRA was intended to prevent.
Public opinion polling on voting rights over the last 75 years show a country united in a desire to see the right to vote protected, but divided in their beliefs about how to achieve that goal -- or whether the goal has already been reached.
It is an embarrassment that the Republican-led Congress has refused to consider legislation to repair that damage to the Voting Rights Act. We are facing a two-pronged attack on our democracy -- unlimited money poured into the political process, paired with the systematic suppression of the vote.
Since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 most of the white South has sought to undo this act in practice. But no smokescreen around such bywords as "states' rights" and "voter fraud" can obscure this disgraceful development.
As we gear up for the 2016 election -- the first presidential election since the Supreme Court crippled the VRA's protections -- we need, as President Johnson said, a new triumph for freedom to match any won on a battlefield. On the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, it is time to legislate, not just commemorate.