Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act that guaranteed African-Americans the right to vote, nearly 1.5 million black men — roughly 13 percent of them — remain disfranchised because of laws that restrict the voting rights of people with felony convictions.
These laws also prevent some white men and women from voting, but they have a sharply disproportionate impact on African-Americans, especially black men. One out of 13 African-Americans can’t vote because of felony disfranchisement — a rate four times greater than non-African-Americans…
To protect the legacy of the Voting Rights Act, Congress and state legislatures should strike down these restrictions. At the very least, all men and women who have served their time in prison or jail should have earned the right to become whole citizens again by participating in a fundamental exercise of democracy.
Commemorating the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act should become a call to action, not a nostalgic look backward.