Courtesy of supremecourt.gov
Courtesy of supremecourt.gov

Dr. Charles Steele Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), called for widespread, peaceful street protests in America for advocates of the disenfranchised to show the world how dissatisfied they are with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold some voting rights restrictions in Arizona.
“We were depending on the court, just as we did in the 1950s and 1960s to do what is right,” said Dr. Steele, disheartened by the vote that might lead courts in states like Georgia to uphold laws preventing some citizens from voting. “We are always looking to the federal government to be the friends of the oppressed. My position has always been politics have never freed the oppressed, the oppressed must free politics. We must take it to the streets in a nonviolent manner and make an impact in terms of letting the world know America is not this great country that has been embedded in the world community. It is not a nation other countries need to model to better themselves. America, in the new world order, is operating like a third world country when it comes to its treatment of the disenfranchised and people of color. We must mobilize these efforts immediately.”
The SCLC, Dr. Steele said, started sounding the alarm about efforts to gut the Voting Rights Act in June of 2013 when the high court struck down sections four and five of the act, which removed some protections. But traditional strategies were push to the side as the focus shifted to celebrating other political successes. Some painful lessons, he said, are being learned from the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The civil rights movement has gone full circle,” Dr. Steele said. “What people must realize, especially those who have been disenfranchised, is that you can never rest on your laurels. You can never take a break and think folks will do what is right. You must always stand and advocate for the poor and those who have been left out of the system in terms of jobs and equality. It is an ongoing process, standing up and fighting for individuals. We have the right under the constitution of the United States. We must fight for our rights even though it is in the constitution. We can never take a vacation. We must fight for our rights every day.”
Now, it is time, Dr. Steele said, to revisit some strategies from the legendary civil rights playbook to restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“The street protests got us the 1965 Voting Rights Act,” Dr. Steele said. “It is the Godly way of expressing our dissatisfaction in front of a massive audience and getting the government and all persons of concern all around the world to know we are dissatisfied with the mindset of the country that was striving to provide justice and equality for all of God’s children.
There is no other recourse, Dr. Steele said.
“This is un-American,” he said. “This is undemocratic. We, as a people, gave America too much credit. America is no different than any other country that tries to oppress and disenfranchise people who are not included and want to be included in the system. The system of racism has raised its ugly head. Now we must stand as we stood before because this is nothing new to us. And when we protest and sound the alarm again, we will set America on its rightful course.”
Established in 1957, the SCLC, whose first president was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is an international organization made up of chapters and affiliates with programs that affect the lives of all Americans.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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