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Rev. William Barber Ask How You Will Honor This Juneteenth

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Written by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

On the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached enslaved people in Texas, Black Americans are still fighting to be treated as equals in this country. As our community faces the disproportionate impact of COVID-19, continued unjust killings at the hands of the police and the ongoing economic impact of systemic racism, an unprecedented wave of protests for racial justice has swept the country. In this moment when the power of the people is focused on systemic change, our right to vote and have our voices heard at the ballot box is more important than ever before.

In 2020, we’re still fighting the fight of 1965 for voting rights. Since the 2013 Supreme Court decision to gut the Voting Rights Act, a wave of new voter suppression laws have made it harder for poorer communities, immigrant communities, indigenous communities, and communities of color to vote. This is especially true in Southern states like North Carolina and Georgia, where the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow are still with us. 

That’s why last Tuesday, amid protests to protect Black lives from a racist criminal justice system and the global coronavirus pandemic, people in Georgia waited in hours and hours of lines just to be faced with broken voting machines. Make no mistake, the system is not broken. It is working hard, just as it was designed, to suppress and silence marginalized voters.

For more than 50 years, Congressman John Lewis has been a champion in the fight to undo the systemic silencing of voices and guarantee every citizen the right to vote. In a new documentary on his life,

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