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Friday, August 6, 2010

Commemorate 45 Years of the VRA by Voting in November


Guest blogger, Terri A. Sewell
Democratic Nominee
Alabama’s 7th Congressional District

Dear Readers:  

Today marks the 45th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.  The VRA and the expansion of voting rights to millions of African Americans was the culmination of years of struggle and determination by countless civil rights workers.  But the passage of the VRA can be most directly tied back to the events of Bloody Sunday – March 7, 1965 – in my hometown of Selma, Alabama.  

On that day, 600 marchers were met with shocking violence as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.  Two days later, Dr. King led marchers from my home church, Historic Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, to Montgomery.  Along the way, the marchers rested at my ancestor's homestead in Lowndes County. 

The brutality of the Alabama police and the bravery of the marchers in Selma helped arouse the conscience of our nation. 

Today, 45 years later, the only real barrier remaining to voter participation is our own apathy.   As we enter the 2010 midterm elections, the political pundits tell us that there is an “enthusiasm gap.”  Too many Democrats and too many of the first-time voters who went to the polls in 2008 are not planning to vote in November 2010.  And too many of these voters are African American.  We cannot let up on the progress we have made. 
On July 13th, I was proud to be chosen by the voters of the 7th Congressional District of Alabama to be the Democratic nominee.  This majority-black district, which includes Birmingham and my hometown of Selma, is not only my home district but the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement.   

Seated in the audience at my home church, Brown Chapel, I was inspired by then-Senator Barack Obama’s 2007 speech commemorating Bloody Sunday.  He spoke of the “Moses Generation” of the Civil Rights Movement and of the responsibility of our generation – the “Joshua Generation” – to carry the torch forward. It was on that  day that I knew I had to answer the call to public service.   

The President made history in November 2008 and has been fighting to bring change to our nation.  Now, we are set to make history in Alabama.  If elected, I will be the first woman elected in her own right to Congress from Alabama and the first African American woman to serve our state in Congress.   

I grew up in Selma in the years immediately after Bloody Sunday.  I watched the changes that occurred in our community, including my mother’s election as the first African American woman on the Selma City Council.  Change did not come easy in Selma, and the change our President promised for our country will not come easily either. 

I am ready to join the President in Washington to fight for that change.  We need to create jobs for the American people, turn our economy around on Main Street, improve public education and continue the fight for health care reform. 

Change will never come if we lose our Democratic majorities in the U.S. House and Senate this November.  We can make a difference by voting this November – by exercising that right that so many sacrificed to obtain for all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or gender.   

Terri A. Sewell
Democratic Nominee
Alabama’s 7th Congressional District


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