Tag Archives: Voting Rights

Reforming All Aspects of Our Voting System

The right to vote is fundamental to American democracy and has been a key part of the Religious Action Center’s work since our founding in 1961. As you may know, the RAC and Reform Jews have a proud legacy of support for the Civil Rights Movement and portions of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were even drafted right in our conference room! It is for this reason that we were so disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder in June 2013, which invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act and eliminated crucial protections for voters. In the wake of Shelby, we have pushed for a Congressional fix through the Voting Rights Amendment Act, but we know that there are many aspects of our voting system that needs reform. Read more…

Bobby Harris and Sophie in Selma

Reflections from a Father-Daughter Trip to Selma

By Bobby and Sophie Harris

My daughter Sophie and I drove from our home in Marietta, GA to participate in the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. We attended a pre-march program at Temple Mishkan Israel—Selma’s only synagogue. Though the synagogue has less than 10 remaining members, the sanctuary was full that morning. Sophie was one of just a handful of youth who attended the service. Below are our reflections from the day: Read more…

Rev Barber and LAs

The Power of Prophetic Rage

This past weekend I had the great privilege of being a part of the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL. Along with my roommate and four of other legislative assistants (and we later joined up with RAC Director Rabbi Jonah Pesner and Deputy Director Rachel Laser), I headed south to honor the work of those who risked and gave their lives for the Civil Rights Movement and to rededicate myself to continuing their work today. While I expected the weekend to be meaningful, I didn’t understand the full power of participating in the anniversary commemorations until I actually arrived in Selma and was able to hear the stories and wisdom of those around me. Read more…

(CREDIT: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Reflections on Selma: Our Intersecting Struggles for Equality

This past weekend, four of the other legislative assistants and I were in Selma for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the March to Montgomery. We had planned our trips months prior to the event, and although I was excited to be a part of this important milestone, I became more and more nervous as the Jubilee approached. With each passing day, I continued to read about the barriers to marriage equality in Alabama, and although I clearly had no intention of getting married while in Alabama, it reminded me that Alabama has the lowest support for marriage equality out of all fifty states and lacks non-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals. I would be leaving the queer-friendly bubble of Washington, D.C. for a state where I could not as easily assume people’s support for my rights. It was ironic that I would be going to a state to mark a landmark moment in civil rights history while that same state was currently in the throes of resisting equality for LGBT people.

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Protesters sitting together from the Selma to Montgomery marches

Wandering in the Desert (Airport), Searching for the Promised Land (Selma)

On March 7, 1965, civil rights leaders led 600 peaceful marchers from Selma towards Montgomery, AL in pursuit of voting rights, but were stopped after just six blocks. The marchers were brutally attacked by police as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Images of the confrontation were televised across the country and the world, horrifying citizens and rousing much-needed, broad public support for voting rights. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday” and helped lead to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act later that year.

As longtime advocates of voting rights and civil rights, this is an important moment for the Reform Movement not only to commemorate this incredible milestone in our nation’s journey for justice, but also to recognize the work that remains to be done. For the current RAC LAs, we feel like inheritors of this tradition and believe firmly in the need for all people, of all backgrounds, to join together in the fight for justice. Read more…

Edmund_Pettus_Bridge

Selma, 50 Years Later: What Can You Do to Mark this Occasion?

Next weekend marks the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

On March 7, 1965, civil rights leaders led 600 peaceful marchers from Selma towards Montgomery, AL in pursuit of voting rights, but were stopped after just six blocks. The marchers were brutally attacked by police as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Images of the confrontation were televised across the country and the world, horrifying citizens and rousing much-needed, broad public support for voting rights. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday” and helped lead to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act later that year. Read more…

A number of Oscars all in a row

Social Justice at the Oscars

In case you missed it, last night at the Academy Awards, many of the winners discussed important issues of social justice in their acceptance speeches. The stage of the Dolby Theater is a unique platform to call attention to these critical issues, and it can be validating to see celebrities discuss topics that we have long been working on in our mandate to repair the world. Read more…

L'Taken Students Voting Rights picture

L’Taken Teens Inspire Us to Fight for Voting Rights for All

Last month, four L’Taken participants from Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey spoke to their Members of Congress about their passion for voting rights. Brett Eisenberg, Victoria Kalbacher, Daniel Susson and Julie Benbassat spoke eloquently about our democracy and our duty as citizens to protect it. As we wait for the re-introduction of the Voting Rights Amendment Act, we must remember that there is still so much to be done to ensure free and fair elections. Read more…

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