How Do We Remember the Movement?
In the last week Shelby County Alabama has proposed to strike down section 5 of the Voter Rights Act of 1965. Section 5 “specifically targets nine historically discriminatory states that imposed a number of devices to prevent minorities from being eligible to vote”. This prevents states with a history of discrimination from passing voting laws without federal approval. But does striking down section 5 hurt our understanding of the civil rights movement? As we have discussed in class much of our country understands the civil rights movement as simply these landmark moments. By removing section 5 Moodley argues we are undermining “the symbolism of everything that led to that bill”. We are removing the history of voter discrimination and not learning from a national discussion we already had. We can’t remove part of the already limited understanding of the civil right movement that we have. This is such a key piece of legislation in the narrative of the civil rights movement that it cannot simply be thrown to the wayside for the sake of stricter voter ID laws.
Certain states under section 5 however feel that it is discriminatory. Both South Carolina and Texas had Voter ID laws struck down by the feds in the last election. While both Texas and South Carolina have been unable to pass new voting laws, other states have been able to successfully do so. Is it really fair for us to pass laws requiring federal oversight on local laws? Yes. While it can be argued that section 5 is outdated, recent memory says otherwise. While race relations have come a long way since Selma; it’s difficult to say even with a black president, that much of our political system isn’t overwhelmingly white. Section 5 was made to help remedy this issue and bring African-Americans more into the American political system. Again such a law is not outdated, it is still used as it was in Texas and South Carolina to strike down laws deemed unlawful.How then do we both accept both our past of racial discrimination and accept equality among the states? While it’s not the supreme courts place to change the law, the law should be upheld as it is still necessary since it is still being used. We should put it on congress however to expand the law. While states would unlikely cede their power to pass laws without federal control it would create a more fair system. Civil rights outside of the south in the 60s were never perfect. Who’s to say the progress made in voting laws in the South today don’t make them similar to another states outdated ones? Race is not just a southern issue and if every state is passing not discriminatory laws then there should be no problem. Finally what does all of this say about how our nation remembrance the civil rights movement?