Moments after President Joe Biden accused the Republicans’ efforts to limit ballot access as a “21st century Jim Crow assault,” on Tuesday, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. credited President Biden’s passionate message about former president Donald Trump’s “big lie” about winning last year’s election—a false proclamation he says, “undercuts our democracy.”
Saying all people need access to voting, Reverend Jackson told reporters that the Senate turned its head on the filibuster and a constitutional right to vote.
Reverend Jackson, held a press conference at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters moments after President Biden made his remarks on the Republicans’ assault on the right to vote, saying, “President Trump lost the campaign, yet 20 states tried to reverse the election. They’ve all failed.”
Joining Reverend Jackson was David Masciotra, a writer, professor and Rainbow PUSH Coalition member; Bishop Tavis Grant, Rainbow PUSH Coalition national field director; Reverend Jeanette Wilson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition senior policy advisor; and Reverend Cameron Barnes, Rainbow PUSH Coalition national youth director.
Bishop Grant told reporters, “Reverend Jackson has appealed to the President on behalf of a number of civil rights organizations, community activists and social justice activists urging him to do what is right in real time.
“On January 6th, it was an insurrection. “This coming August 6th will be a moral resurrection. We must get rid of the filibuster now. The most critical part of his (Biden’s) speech was never mentioned.
“The work of Reverend Jackson and (the late Representative) John Lewis is still alive and well. The For the People’s Act is the most comprehensive measure of legislature that will overturn over 400 pieces of state legislation in over 40 states designed to suppress and to silence the voice of 75 million people, who are responsible for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.”
Grant went on to say, “We have the majority. There is no time like now. We must act now to pass this legislation and return America back to the people. “It is a government for the people, by the people, and we’re the people right now that matters most.”
Reverend Wilson said, “We cannot litigate our way out of this states’ rights agenda. It requires federal initiative. There must be federal oversight. The federal government must pass a voting rights bill that is comprehensive and covers all of the violations that the Supreme Court upheld in its recent ruling.
“We are calling on citizens at every age group, every level, our clergy, students across America to call on your senators, particularly in those 11 southern states that are moving and pushing this states’ rights agenda,” Wilson said. “Urge your senator to pass those two pieces of legislation,” referring to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) and the For the People Act (FTPA).
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition joined the national “Good Trouble” candlelight vigils and marches in honor of the late Congressman John Lewis on Saturday, July 17th, 7:30 p.m. at the statues of Malcolm X and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at 500 S. Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive across from the Buckingham Fountain.
“We will be joining with Reverend William Barber and the Poor Peoples campaign across this nation all summer long fighting for passage of the two national voting rights pieces of legislation,” Wilson said.
Bishop Grant told reporters that this Saturday they will be commemorating and highlighting “the need and the imperative to keep the work of John Lewis alive. As we remember and reflect upon him, we must return to what he made his mission in life, which was good trouble. It’s time for some good trouble.”
Reverend Wilson added, “We are living in a hostile federal district court, which is the same kind of court we’ve had to fight in years past where the Federal District Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have been appointed by the prior president.
“Their rulings are in support of states’ rights agenda. That is why we are pushing for a federal constitutional protected right to vote now.”
Masciotra, an English professor at the Indiana University Northwest, who wrote the book, I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters, said it was significant for Reverend Jackson to hold the press conference at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
In an interview with the Crusader, he stated, “It is significant because that civil rights organization is responsible for more Americans to vote than any other organization in the history of the country. “This is ground zero for expanding the franchise, which is the cornerstone of our democracy.
“Reverend Jackson is one of many who risked his life to establish a universal right to vote in this country. Now that the right to vote is under assault, we risk losing everything we value and hold dear as Americans, who believe in the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and a government of, by and for the people.”
“We are at a high alert crisis, and we have to take aggressive action right now,” he said. “We need the Biden administration and the Democrats in the House and the Senate to act likewise.”
Asked his opinion about the Republicans using Trump’s “big lie” to pass hundreds of bills in 17 states that restrict access to voting for Black and brown people, Masciotra said, “If you study the history of any fascists regime in the history of the world or any autocracy, they are following that playbook.
“It’s happened recently in Hungary, in Poland where right-wing governments use lies, various forms of racism and hatred to demolish democratic norms, institutions and rights and take control with an authoritarian agenda,” explained Masciotra.
“What the Republicans are doing right now threatens the very foundation of the U.S. America and our lives in his country.”
“Reverend Jackson risked his life in the form of civil rights leadership. My grandfather risked his life as a veteran of WW II, and all of that is on the line right now. We all need to wake up and get involved with organizations, like the Rainbow PUSH, to stop this destruction of our way of life, of our Bill of Rights of our democratic system.”
Hours later and after 51 of the 67 House Democrats fled the state before the showdown vote on the voting rights bill, the Texas majority Republican Senate passed the legislation along party lines in a vote of 18-4.
Though nine other Senate Democrats fled the state prior to the GOP-led vote, the Republicans were able to maintain a quorum of 22 of its 31 members who were present.
Senator Bryan Hughes (R-TX) stated the bill is a “common sense reform” to maintain the integrity of elections. “This bill,” he said, is about making it both easy to vote and harder to cheat. There is no evidence that cheating went on during last year’s presidential election.