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Black women: ‘There cannot be celebration without legislation!’

Statement from In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

WASHINGTON — Today, the nation honors the work and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Marcela Howell, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, issued the following statement:

“On a day meant to honor Dr. King, Black people face the most unabashed, blatant racist attacks by elected officials since the days of Jim Crow. In response to the systemic gutting of voting rights in state legislatures, our federal government has refused to defend our most fundamental constitutional right.

“Without the right to vote, we have no rights. Dr. King and all of the leaders and activists of the civil rights movement understood that. They fought a peaceful revolution — violently attacked by white supremacists — to win a right that they were already guaranteed on paper, the right to vote. Now, on Martin Luther King Day, we once again find Black voters blocked from the polls. We are still fighting to cast our votes and have them counted.

“Today, there cannot be celebration without legislation. We demand that the Senate pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Policymakers who believe in American democracy must champion voting rights for all people.

“Voting is a fundamental right; without it we lose access to all of our rights and our democracy crumbles. Yet, there are senators who are willing to sacrifice the great American experiment of democracy to protect the Senate’s rules. If those senators continue to stand on ceremony, they will soon find themselves standing on the grave of democracy. The stakes are that high, the prospects are dire.

“Voters across the country demand that our elected officials act like patriots by protecting our Constitution. We challenge every voter to contact their senators to demand that they take action to pass legislation to protect our voting rights now.”


In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national reproductive justice organization focused on lifting the voices of Black women at the national and regional levels in our ongoing policy fight to secure reproductive justice for all women and girls. Our eight strategic partners include Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, Inc. SisterReach, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, The Afiya Center and Women With A Vision.

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