(House of Representatives - June 27, 2013)

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[Page H4088]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                         STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Danny K. Davis) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. DANNY K. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, the struggle for 
equality, for justice, for freedom, for democracy is an awesome force. 
No force, no historical circumstance has done more to shape our Nation, 
but that struggle has always been confronted by an endless series of 
attempts to block, minimize, sidetrack, undo, and weaken our democracy. 
Through all these struggles, those most oppressed have repeatedly taken 
the lead to reinforce our democracy and solidify our Nation.
  We fought a bloody, wrenching Civil War to end a Nation that was 
suffocating ``half slave and half free.'' Three million men fought in 
that war, and 620,000 died. Although African Americans made up 1 
percent of the population of the North, they made up 10 percent of the 
Union Army.
  In the aftermath, Congress sought to enshrine in the Constitution, 
forever, basic democratic rights: in the 14th Amendment, the power to 
enforce the Bill of Rights, due process, and equal rights; and in the 
15th Amendment, voting rights regardless of race, color, or previous 
condition of servitude. But a violent, terrorist backlash led by the Ku 
Klux Klan prevented the implementation of our Constitution for a 
hundred years until a new civil rights struggle, based on nonviolence, 
but no less powerful, forced our Nation, the courts, and this Congress 
to recognize those promised constitutional rights.
  Among the forms of recognition were the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 
1965. They transformed the political landscape of America.

                              {time}  1050

  But the truth is that, beginning as far back as the Nixon 
administration, efforts sought to chip away at those rights. 
Yesterday's Supreme Court decision undermining the enforcement of 
voting rights is the latest attempt to roll back history.
  Shall we go forward or shall we go backwards?
  The rapidly changing demographics of our Nation is calling new forces 
into the struggle for civil and voting rights every day, and our 
response to yesterday's Supreme Court decision presents a challenge for 
every Member of this Congress. And we have to ask ourselves: Which side 
are you on?
  For me, the path is clear. We need a Federal right to vote enshrined 
in our Constitution, one clearly, unambiguously, boldly, proudly 
asserting that we will not tolerate any infringement on our rights as 
citizens to express the will of the people.
  Those who seek to dilute voting rights, to place barriers on every 
citizen's right to participate in this government, will find themselves 
on the wrong side of history and, in the end, will be no more able to 
stop the movement for equality, for justice, for freedom, for democracy 
than they're able to stop the sun from rising in the morning or setting 
in the evening or to stop people who've decided that they love each 
other from expressing it.