On August 28, 1963, activists and civilians alike took to the streets of Washington D.C. to demand civil and economic equality for Black Americans. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. moved the crowds and listeners worldwide with his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.
60 years later, Americans are still calling for his dream to be realized.
March on Washington
With minority voting rights under attack in conservative states, and the rewriting of Black History education standards perpetuated by state governments, true racial equality can still feel far away. To honor the landmark anniversary, some lawmakers in Congress are pushing to take the next step forward.
Democratic Rep. Nikema Williams, who co-chairs the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, has partnered with other Democrats in the House and Senate to announce a package of eight bills that she dubbed “one of the most comprehensive voting rights legislative packages in congressional history" in a statement to NBC.
Williams added that the “legislative package takes a major step to ensuring everyone has free and fair access to the ballot,” noting that as “Jim Crow 2.0 continues to rise across the country, we urgently need comprehensive national standards to protect voting rights for everyone — no matter your ZIP Code, no matter your bank account.”
Re-introduced in the package is the Freedom to Vote Act, a measure that would establish national voting standards and protections for election officials. Other bills included would expand ballot access for non-English speakers, improve mail-in voting standards, create guidelines for voter wait times, and mandate protected time off for all workers on Election Day.
The package comes as House and Senate Republicans attempt to push legislation that would mandate Voter ID laws, punish states where noncitizens vote, and override many election laws in Washington D.C. Critics say that the measures would disenfranchise voters of color while protecting wealthy donors.
In the intensely partisan Congress, it is unlikely either group will push through their legislation at this time, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, told reports last month: “Make no mistake: Democrats are going to keep fighting."
“We have to be ready to pass this legislation right out of the gate, at the soonest possible opportunity," he said.