Janaye's Corner: Forward March
We have our marching orders and the road ahead is ripe for our footsteps on the path to justice.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write. And not that there hasn’t been plenty to say, but planning the National Action to Realize the Dream March as part of the 50th Anniversary March on Washington activities was no small feat. Coming out of the march, which was more successful than I had ever imagined with nearly 200,000 people in attendance, and on the heels of a very successful ceremonial program amidst a successful week of events, I feel energized and ready to go. But the burning question that I’ve been asked by many people is "What’s next? Where do we go from here?"
Anyone who attended the march on August 24th or ceremonial program on August 28th saw a variety of speakers and a plethora of issues. To some it may have been overwhelming, but if you understand the diversity of this country, then you will understand the importance of making sure that everyone’s voice was heard. We are in a time when the fight for equality and justice look different for everyone. For immigrants, it looks like a path to citizenship and keeping families together. Women are concerned with being able to earn as much as their male counterparts and having the right to control what happens to their bodies. For the LGBT community, it looks like the ability to marry who they want, when and where they want and to have protection from discrimination in the work place. For blacks, the issues concern racial profiling and criminal justice issues like the laws surrounding Stop and Frisk and Stand Your Ground. But the big red bow that ties these issues together is the protection of democracy and ensuring that the right to vote is not inhibited by laws that seek to keep people further away from the ballot box.
When the Supreme Court took an activist role and knocked the teeth out of the Voting Rights Act by removing Section 4, which decides where the federal government has the right to overturn or block discriminatory voting law, it essentially opened the door for voters to be disenfranchised from the process. The issue of restoring the Voting Rights Act is not a partisan, race or class issue. Protecting voting rights is at the very heart of every other issue and at the very heart of being an American. When we address the issues above, we know that what has an impact on each one of them is the ability of people to vote for the candidates who support their cause. Reestablishing the protections of the Voting Rights Act has been proposed by Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin. Sensenbrenner has been a champion of the Voting Rights Act for many years and knows the value of addressing it now. We must see bipartisan action on this issue if we truly want to see change.
We know that there are many issues and divergent paths that all lead to justice. But the place where our interests intersect is the place where we all bring together our politics and our passions – in the ballot box. The first step on our forward march is toward fixing what will block our ability to address all other issues. We know what the first step is and now is the time to take it.
Janaye Ingram serves as the DC Bureau Chief of the National Action Network, bringing with her years of experience of working in communities of color.
March Photo Credit: Instagram/nationalactionnetwork