Reflections on 58th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma

NETWORK Celebrates Senate Reintroduction of John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

For Immediate Release: March 1, 2024

WASHINGTON—Ahead of the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, Senator Raphael R. Warnock, Senator Richard Durbin, and others reintroduced the John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This legislation is named after the late Congressman and civil rights icon Rep. John R. Lewis, who risked his life for the right to vote. The bill would restore and modernize the 1965 Voting Rights Act and require preclearance on a nationwide scale for practices that disproportionately affect communities of color. This legislation is a critical second part to the faith community’s democracy agenda along with the Freedom to Vote Act.

Joan F. Neal, NETWORK Deputy Executive Director and Chief Equity Officer, and Mary J. Novak, NETWORK Executive Director, said:

“The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will ensure that all voters have a voice in selecting the leaders who represent them through the free and fair exercise of the right to vote. Throughout our history, people have given their lives to protect and expand the franchise. In this time of increasing efforts to limit the access and ability of some voters to the ballot, this legislation will ensure that every eligible person can safely and freely cast their votes, Preserving and protecting the right to vote is an imperative not just for communities of color but for all Americans if we are to maintain our representative form of governance and ensure a more inclusive democracy. This is a fundamental responsibility of our government, and Congress should pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act now, without reservation.”

Min. Christian S. Watkins, NETWORK Government Relations Advocate, said:

“Democracy is the form of government best suited to guarantee the protection and flourishing of all people. A government that is functional and truly representative is a basic criterion for passing policies that care for and protect the most vulnerable members of our society because it is inevitably those who are on the periphery who suffer the most when democracy is failing or under threat. This legislation cannot wait any longer. In the last decade since the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision gutted key enforcement mechanisms in the Voting Rights Act, at least 29 states have passed more than 100 laws making it harder to vote, with at least 11 states enacting 13 restrictive voting laws in 2023 alone. We call on Congress to take immediate action to restore faith in our government, safeguard our right to vote, and secure our democracy for such a time as this.”

Comments from other leaders in the Faithful Democracy coalition and their full letter to Senators Warnock and Durbin can be found online.

# # #

Founded by Catholic Sisters in 1972, in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, NETWORK is an inclusive, national, Catholic advocacy organization open to all who share our values, working to achieve equity and justice for everyone. Grounded in Gospel values and the Catholic social justice tradition, NETWORK transforms our society by shaping federal policies that achieve racial, economic, and social justice; serve the common good; and honor the dignity of all.