Black Americans have always been resistant — now it’s time for our elected officials to step up
That’s the theme of this year’s Black History Month. Resistance is the dual idea of refusing to accept what you’ve been dealt and not letting what’s been dealt affect you. Despite the efforts of bad faith actors, bigots, and bystanders alike to maintain a status quo that excludes us, Black people have always resisted. We have refused to accept those circumstances and pushed to have our voices heard, while simultaneously not allowing anything, or anyone, destroy our spirit.
Since the country’s inception, Black people have been at the forefront of those consistently pushing the U.S. to live up to its ideals of being a free, fair, and just country. Once again, we’re calling on America to start taking big steps to continue striving for those ideals — to be the country we never have been but must be.
From fighting for slavery abolition, to calling for an end to segregation and police brutality, Black Americans’ resistance is fueled by one thing: advocating for our rights. For centuries, we have resisted oppression, opting instead to fight for our freedom. One of the ongoing fights that America faces is the state of our democracy. America faces the threat of extremists trying to strip away the foundation of our democracy — the right to fair and free elections. But this threat isn’t an unfamiliar one to Black Americans. In fact, they are amongst the most vulnerable when anti-voter laws are passed.
Despite these attacks, Black Americans have been critical to democracy’s success because of their resilience. We’ve seen this in marches, votes, and civic engagement from Black people of all ages. And it’s been these actions that have kept bad faith actors from succeeding, with our community continuing to reject lies and conspiracy theories about our elections, with 2022 seeing a plethora of Big Lie proponents unsuccessful in gaining office.
But there’s only so much that can be done without legislation, and power must be held accountable.
We are urging our national leaders to take action, to no longer accept a reality where Black people are tools used to upend democracy, to resist. Now is the time for a comprehensive bill that protects our right to democracy. It is that right that’s critical to a fair and just country: not the filibuster, not politics, and not “business as usual.”
Across the country, we have seen an escalation in state-level attacks on voters’ rights. Whether it be voter ID laws, felon disenfranchisement, mis- and disinformation, or gerrymandering, Black folks are at a disproportionate risk of being left behind in our democracy.
In 2021 and 2022, the House passed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act to protect voters. However, both were blocked by Senate Republican filibusters. More than a year later, Black people are now faced with an even bigger influx of intimidation tactics and voter suppression bills aimed to prevent us from heading to the polls.
With the 2024 election looming, efforts to strengthen our elections and protect the voting rights of the most vulnerable must begin now. Regardless of the makeup of Democrats, Republicans, or Independents in Congress, the advancement of a powerful, pro-democracy agenda still remains a priority for Black Americans.
Additionally, it will take a coalition of voting advocates, organizations, and allies to accomplish this goal. Voting rights cannot solely be the cause of those who have experienced discrimination. Rather, voting rights must be the cause of all who believe in democracy.
At Common Cause, we are ready to defend our voting rights. We know we’ll be joined by Americans across the country who want to protect the rights of those who are disenfranchised and see our country move forward. That is because our organization hopes to build on the victories secured by Black Americans during the Civil Rights Movement and beyond.
For centuries, Black Americans have shown resistance in a country that has struggled with ongoing bigotry and injustice. To Congress: our resistance is strong. Do not fail us.