Did Rep. Lewis suggest GOP control could result in 1960s-type discrimination?

In an e-mail from the political wing of the Obama White House, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) referenced today’s 45th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and his participation in the voter’s rights march from Selma to Montgomery in March of 1965. He used the historical reference to ask for campaign donations, and seems to suggest GOP control could take us back to 1960s-type discrimination.

To be clear, I’m not saying racism does not exist. I’m not saying it is not a problem. But in his e-mail, Rep. Lewis says the barriers are gone and we live in a better world and a better country. Is he suggesting our culture will revert back to the days of 1960-era discrimination if Republicans take the House and Senate in three months?

You read it, and let me know if I’m reading too much into his plea. Maybe he’s just going the “we need change so we need more money” route – without telling us what needs to change – but he mentions the remarkable progress in detail, over and over. The e-mail, with my emphasis in bold. (I removed the bold in the original, but left the links in place.)

On March 7th, 1965, 600 of us lined up to walk from Selma to Montgomery, to march for voting rights.

When we tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, we were met by state troopers. They attacked us with tear gas, bullwhips, and nightsticks.

It became known as Bloody Sunday, and the national outcry over the brutality that day led to the enactment, exactly 45 years ago today, of the Voting Rights Act.

The progress we’ve made since then is remarkable.

But the expansion of voting rights for millions did not happen overnight. It was the product of a continued struggle, by many people, over many years.

And just as change did not come easily then, it does not come easily now.

Discrimination still exists in America — its effects can be as harmful as they were decades ago. And we can always become a better, more just society.

Two years ago, this movement — led by Barack Obama — brought millions of people into the political process for the first time.

I’m told that many of you are working hard now to get as many as possible of those folks — and others from across the country who are with us in these fights — to the polls this year.

It’s an important effort, and the legacy of the fight for the Voting Rights Act is that it is not only our right to vote, and to help others do so — it is our duty.

Can I count on you to help out between now and the elections in November?

When I was a child, I tasted the bitter fruits of racial discrimination — and I did not like it.

That was what spurred me to act. In those early days, we sacrificed our very selves for our rights as Americans. But we never gave up.

And now barriers that kept an entire people from full participation in this country have been removed.

No longer are people who look like me met with violence when we register to vote.

No longer is the idea that an African American could become president just a dream.

We live in a better world, a better country.

But our work is not complete. We cannot wait for someone else to make change.

We must all do it. You must do it. I must do it.

Please sign up to help millions more vote:


Thank you,

Congressman John Lewis

Simple exit questions for Rep. Lewis. Exactly what do you mean by “make change”? If the barriers have been removed, (your words) can we now move on and stop pulling the race card? Are you suggesting GOP control could reverse the progress that has been made?

12 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Aside from the insinuations of racism against the GOP, the complete failure to reference any Democrat Party accomplishments (for blacks or whites) speaks volumes.


    When all else fails, whip out the magic race card, because it is either all you have, or it is the only thing you think will bring some people to the polls.

  2. David R
    David R says:

    Is he suggesting the Republicans will set the clock back on civil rights? Nope, don't see it. In fact I don't think I've ever read such an upbeat assessment of race relations by an elected official. However he is speaking to his base, and what's he gonna say: "Vote for the other guy."  The Voting Rights Act was pushed by a determined LBJ following the assasination of a popular president and great sacrifice by  activists who were overwhlemingly black.  For me, looking backwards at the turbulent 60s is a reminder that we've lived through much worse than what we are now facing.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      The insinuation that only Democrats can keep and maintain civil rights for blacks is a tacit attack on the Republicans.  This is not a "get out the vote" plea, it is a "get out the Democrats" plea.

      • David R
        David R says:

        Dims , I think you are overracting to a fund raising/get out the vote plea. Every party sell doomsday scenarios about electing the opposition. That said, I think it is stretch to turn his remarks into an accusation against Republicans, Independents, Greenies or Tea Partiers.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      I believe that is the "anchor baby" debate.  I, for one, have no problem requiring a newborn to have the citizenship of its parents.  If one or both are American citizens, the the baby is also.  If not, then the citizenship is that of the parents.  If the parents are not yet naturalized, then the naturalization can be bestowed on the children under a certain age.  Most of the rest of the world does it this way.

  3. JollyRoger
    JollyRoger says:

    Well, thank God he's not calling for new black panthers to assemble at every polling place because we know such activity is condoned by the United States Attorney General and his boss- Barry Soetero!  But the Soetero Administration has, so far, exercised tremendous restraint with people who don't look like them- I haven't seen any police dogs and fire hoses at those tea parties.  Just take Barry's advice- your party had its chance to fix these problems (And in Barry's jaundiced eye we're all problems), now it's your turn to be quiet and not interfere as he takes whatever drastic steps are necessary to correct the foibles and follies of previous administrations- like not taxing enough, no redistributing wealth enough, not subsidizing inefficient and overpaid unions enough…

  4. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Still Dims, what do you do about the 14th Amendment? Suggest a repeal? For this case it's OK to do what the rest of the world does?

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      You can just amend it.  Make the letter of the law follow the original intent: making sure former slaves were bona fide citizens.  You can't have 60,000 births of new citizens to illegals in Texas (one example) without some deleterious effects.  What are those effects?  Well, unrestricted border crossings is the biggie, with terrorist, drug and disease implications (whooping cough, dengue fever and tuberculosis among others).  We already know that each of these is a huge, documented problem.  That is what the immigration process is for, as well as border enforcement, which the Øbama administration feels unnecessary, or "the best it has ever been", which is to say, sucks.


      It is clear that the 14th Amendment is being abused, and in a quite egregious way.  Do you think there is anyone under the age of five in Mexico or the rest of the world that doesn't realize that simply having a child in the U.S. is a shortcut to citizenship?


      I don't believe that making the rule as I described above particularly onerous, and will be an easy way to curb much of the illegal alien problem.  Whether to get cheap labor or easy votes, perpetuating the huge problem we are having with illegals is almost seditious.  Maybe it is.


      It is not a racial problem, it is a geographic one.  Certain political groups try to make it so, because it is easy to do (some 80% of illegals are Mexican) and puts the opposition on the defensive.  If you extrapolate the specious race argument, is it not racist to refuse to admit half a billion Chinese, Indians or Africans that might want to come here?  Particularly knowing that Øbama is just itching to offer illegals amnesty, and that once the door is opened, it is like Pandora's Box?

  5. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Amending the Constitution is an onerous process (I still remember the ERA fiasco). So I give the chance of passing an amendment in my lifetime a big zero. We can talk about it, but I believe we would be better off by enacting a sane immigration policy.

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