John Lewis and the History of Voting Rights

Representative John Lewis echoed the ghosts of America’s past as he recounted the horrible stories about the South during the Jim Crow era. John Lewis told the audience here at the DNC about the life-threatening experience he and his busmate experienced when they arrived in Rock Ridge, South Carolina to boycott Jim Crow laws that keep voters from the polls. There in the Deep South, Lewis and his friend were beaten badly and left in a “pool of blood” on the sidewalk.

What Lewis fought against then were poll taxes and brain teasers (e.g., how many gum balls in a jar) designed to keep African Americans from casting a vote. Lewis made the point yesterday that the fight to give every voice fair representation in government is not over. In keeping with the theme of forward, not back, John Lewis talked about the laws Republicans are trying to pass around the country. Laws designed to push America backward, not forward; laws that are aimed at keeping specific groups away from the polls. But America must not go backward, it must go forward, and for Lewis, and many around the country, Obama is the man to lead the America forward.

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