THE BLOG
09/30/2013 02:39 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2013

Can't Stop Now

History isn't just about names and dates of the past; it's about shaping the future and leaving a legacy during the present moment. In the face of renewed attacks on the voting rights of American citizens, the Justice Department has taken immediate constructive action. Last month, the Department announced that it would be suing the state of Texas over its new voter ID measure, and today we learn that it will sue North Carolina over that state's legislation that will require photo IDs at polling locations and restrict early voting days. When creative schemes threaten to disenfranchise the rights of Americans, we need a Justice Department and an Attorney General that are not afraid to stand up for the liberties afforded to all of us despite our socio-economic background, race, color or creed. This summer we watched renewed attacks on our freedoms, but we also witnessed a revival of nonviolent demonstrations, mobilization and action. Now we must carry that same fighting spirit into the new season. Those attempting to destroy progress will not win, plain and simple.

In August, some 180,000 to 200,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. to join National Action Network and Martin Luther King III as we paid homage to the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic 'March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom'. Dealing with voting rights, 'stand your ground' laws, health care, 'stop-and-frisk' and jobs, the march was a rallying call to remain steadfast in the fight against inequality and injustice. While our 'National Action to Realize the Dream' march was a tremendous achievement, our success isn't defined by the number of people who showed up, but by our follow-up. The numbers, though great, aren't enough. We must sustain a commitment to tackle the issues we raised because words must be matched by visible action.

Sometimes, the problems appear so great, so insurmountable that people simply give up. Do not fall victim to this trap. Change is very real, change is very possible and change is actually inevitable. We just witnessed it in the city of New York. We watched the NYC City Council pass bills bringing in more oversight of the NYPD. And we saw a candidate, Bill de Blasio, who openly campaigned on a platform of 'stop-and-frisk' reform win a tremendous majority of the vote during the primary election.

On a national level, we've observed misinformation and fear mongering against the president's Affordable Care Act, also referred to as 'Obamacare'. But guess what, it's going into effect tomorrow. And many Americans have already benefitted from the new health care law, including children who have been able to remain on their parent's insurance, and those with pre-existing conditions who now cannot be denied coverage. Beginning October 1st, the rest of the country will have an opportunity to sign up and benefit as well.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court attempted to invalidate a key provision of the Voting Rights Act and thereby eliminated a pre-clearance requirement in areas with a history of discriminatory practices. Almost instantaneously states like Texas began moving forward with new requirements like voter ID laws. The Supreme Court decision was a devastating blow to historic civil rights legislation that came to fruition only through the immense sacrifices of all those fighting for justice decades prior. Invalidating this section of the Voting Rights Act was a slick maneuver that would disenfranchise the votes of minorities, the poor, the elderly and young people. This outrageous decision appeared to be an insurmountable blow to equality and fairness, but the Justice Department is stepping in to preserve our fundamental right to vote. Once again, truth is overruling discrimination and unfairness.

On the road to social, political and economic justice, there will be distractors. There will be those who conjure up clever schemes to silence others. There will be those who will attempt to take away our right to vote, our right to walk freely without being racially profiled and our right to create a society where everyone has an equal opportunity to vie for that American dream. We must not allow the dream busters to distract us. We must protect voting rights, implement the Affordable Care Act, eliminate/alter policies like 'stop-and-frisk' and 'stand your ground', put pressure on elected officials to pass a sustainable jobs bill, push for education reform, establish livable wages for all, restore the full faith and credit of the nation and continue fighting on the right side of history.

This summer, we showed up. But we cannot just be a summer of dreamers; we must be autumn achievers.

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