serving before the Voting Rights Act still retain their positions. Discourteous and hostile registrars often contribute to the frustration of blacks attempting to register to vote. Throughout the South, race continues to be a primary factor in the consideration of appointments to registration positions and boards.
In many areas of the rural South, including the non-covered states of Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas and Texas, there is still an element of fear on the part of blacks and a threat of economic reprisal against those who might register to vote for the first time. Among the fears known to VEP are loss of jobs and income, eviction, refusal of credit, loan foreclosures, and denial of social security, welfare payments, and food stamps.
Many mechanisms plague the minority electorate and have the intent and effect of diluting the black vote in the South. The use of at-large elections almost uniformly deters black representation in public offices, especially at the city and county level of government throughout the southern states.
Many mechanisms plague the minority electorate and have the intent and effect of diluting the black vote in the south. The use of at- large elections almost uniformly deters black representation in public offices, especially at the city and county level of government throughout the southern states.
In addition to such practices which have existed since the period prior to passage of the act, those who would devise new barriers to black participation in southern politics are hard at work gerrymandering, annexing, consolidating, changing polling - places, changing election methods-- in short, using every - conceivable tactic to oppose, circumvent, or ignore the intent of the voting rights act.
Gerrymandering has occurred in recent years, ranging from congressional boundaries to city council districts. The state-
In addition to such practices which have existed since the period prior to passage of the Act, those who would devise new barriers to black participation in southern politics are hard at work gerrymandering, annexing, consolidating, changing polling places, changing election methods -- in short, using every conceivable tactic to oppose, circumvent, or ignore the intent of the Voting Rights Act.
Gerrymandering has occurred in recent years, ranging from Congressional boundaries to city council districts. The state legislatures of South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Virginia have all formulated reapportionment plans which have been challenged and found to be discriminatory to the black vote.
The records of the Justice Department reveal case after case of attempts to hinder, dilute, and eliminate the power of the minority vote. These violations of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act did not occur a decade ago. They happened last year, last month, yesterday, and there is no indication that they will
cease in the foreseeable future. Those who hold illegitimate power will not give it up voluntarily. As Frederick Douglass stated in 1857, "Power concedes nothing without a struggle; it never has and it never will."
In fact, election law and regulation changes in many areas of the South have not even been submitted to the Justice Department in violation of the Section 5 preclearance clause. The abuses of the Voting Rights Act are such that enforcement of Section 5 must be continued and , if possible, increased. There are southern voices which have claimed embarrassment because of having to comply with the Voting Rights Act, but the continued violations demonstrate that the embarrassment has not brought about repentance.
The Lewis statement is worth quoting at such great length because it so clearly spells out what great distance we have covered as well as the great distance yet to go.
He closed his remarks with four recommendations that ought to have special meaning to us all.
(1) a permanent, national act should be passed to guarantee permanent minority voting rights protection; (2) the permanent voting rights protection for minorities should include a ban on literacy requirements for registration, and should exclude all other requirements except age, citizenship, and residence; (3) the Department of Justice should be given greater enforcement powers to secure compliance with provisions of a permanent act, and (4) there should be a greater federal presence in areas where minority voting rights are threatened..
John Lewis' recommendation are simple and direct. If enacted, they will extend to minorities across this country the rights and protections we struggled for over years of disappointment and difficulty.
That national protection is needed is self evident; millions of Black and Brown people North, West and South find themselves still powerless because they are deliberately excluded from the political process.
In our section of the country, it was done by white [illegible] cowards riding at night, the midnight bomb or the test what Albert Einstein could not pass; in the rest of the country, exclusion is more subtle but just as pervasive. In big city after big city, North of the Mason- Dixon line and West of the Mississippi, political machines and official hostility have combined to keep us unrestricted and unlistened to.
It is not without accident that there are proportionally more Black people registered to vote now in Selma, Alabama than there in Brooklyn, New York.
Many of you are Mayors of towns and cities deliberately made small by the hostile