Sharpton, CBC Join Forces on Voter Suppression

Lauren Victoria Burke | 2/22/2012, 10:48 a.m.

"The drama of going back to Selma and staying every night where they stayed in 1965 creates a irrevocable picture to America that they are uprooting and undermining what was achieved in the Civil Rights movement," Sharpton said.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), speaking on the tie between the march and the larger Civil Rights movement, recounted a story of how her father taught her how to deal with the Ku Klux Klan.

"We cannot go back. Too many people fought and died like my daddy so that I could vote. So that I could exercise the right to vote and I refuse -- I refuse to go back," Wilson stated. "I will march with Rev. Sharpton, I will march with anyone who is trying to stop the clock from going back," she declared.

Wilson also said she served in the Florida legislature for 12 years and no voter ID laws passed.

"All of a sudden after the 2008 election, these [voter ID laws] miraculously appear. Why? Because we have a Black President in the White House. It's to stop all of the people of color from standing in line and from coming out to vote," Wilson added, putting a strong tone of urgency on the issue.

In November 2011, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Charlie Gonzalez made a similar point.

"We are revisiting that horrible period in the history of this country," Gonzalez said, referring to new strict voter ID laws in Texas. "What this law will do is disenfranchise a certain segment of our community in Texas. Need I tell you what that segment may be... it's gonna be minorities, of course," he said.

A reporter from the Birmingham News asked Sharpton if the President or any Obama Administration officials would attend his march. "We have not asked the Administration to march. We are doing this as civil rights groups and today announcing Congressional support," he answered.

"A lot of these laws are being proposed by Republicans across this country," Sharpton said. "Isn't it interesting that they did not ask for voter ID for any caucuses and primaries," he said.

The wrong candidate, Mitt Romney, was declared the "winner" of the Iowa Caucuses only to have Rick Santorum be declared the winner three weeks later.

"One of the things this march will do is put a lot of visibility and pressure on everyone to do whatever they can do... we intend to meet with and have asked to meet with the Attorney General and the President on this issue, he added.

Also attending the press conference with Sharpton were Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tx.), Hansen Clarke (D-Mi.), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Karen Bass (D-Cal.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Il.).

Lauren Victoria Burke is Politic365 Chief Congressional Correspondent, publishes the blog Crewof42 on the Congressional Black Caucus.