Rockford Register Star

I had the once in a lifetime opportunity earlier this month to travel to Selma, Alabama, with a bipartisan group of 100 Members of Congress to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march for voting rights.

Fifty years ago, peaceful protesters planned to march from Selma to Montgomery to protest widespread voting discrimination across the South.

They made it no farther than the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma before being savagely beaten by those determined to keep African Americans from the polls.

However, media coverage of the march galvanized the nation and helped spur passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act later that year.

So while celebrating how far we’ve come as a nation since 1965, we’re also reminded of how far we have still to go.

Today, many in our nation are still denied the fundamental right to participate in our democracy by way of the ballot box.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has documented 148 separate instances of discrimination in voting between 2000 and 2014.

Yet in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

To help right this wrong, I support the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act which would strengthen our commitment to democratic participation and uphold the bold declaration that all are created equal.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act this year, we are called to action because we know that America is stronger when everyone’s voice is heard.

— Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, East Moline