|The Hill: DNC Chair Jaime Harrison: H.R. 4 carries forward the legacy of Congressman John Lewis
By Jaime Harrison
September 3, 2021On Aug. 28, 1963, thousands of Americans came to our nation’s capital for the March on Washington. Inspired by leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer and John Lewis, they sought to bring the country closer to realizing our Founders’ assertion that all of us are equal. It was the pinnacle of the civil rights movement.
That movement led to landmark civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act. The law made it possible for people such as my grandparents to vote. After enduring decades of obstacles in Jim Crow South Carolina, this law finally represented progress to them and so many others.
Recently, thousands of Americans across the country gathered to mark the 58th anniversary of the March on Washington and renew the call for updated voting rights legislation. On the eve of that day, GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel published an op-ed in The Hill criticizing H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
This split screen is telling. Americans remain steadfast in their commitment to the right to vote. They know that people like Congressman John Lewis bled to secure that sacred right. They’ve heard the stories from their elders about the dogs, the billy clubs and the water hoses turned upon Black Americans. They know how far we’ve come, and they never want to go back.
Chair McDaniel and the Republican Party, on the other hand, appear to have lost their way. They’ve apparently decided that voting rights no longer serve them.
For decades, voting rights were supported by Democrats and Republicans. Broad, bipartisan majorities of Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act five times. I worked alongside Congressman Lewis and members of both parties to pass the last reauthorization with overwhelming support. At the state level, moderate Republicans such as former Michigan Gov. George Romney, McDaniel’s grandfather, championed civil rights and marched alongside other activists. Leaders set politics aside to affirm the sacred right to vote.
Today’s Republican Party, led by Donald Trump, Ronna McDaniel, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have trampled that legacy. And while McDaniel makes a variety of claims to avoid owning up to her party’s anti-voting rights stance, her argument is lacking.