‘OITNB’ Star Uzo Aduba: State Of U.S. Race Relations Creates ‘Opportunity To Stand On The Right Side Of History’
Aduba: “We’re living in a time right now where the challenging and the hard conversation needs to be had. We’re watching the country, the face of this country and the ideas of this country, change and move into a place where we have the opportunity to stand on the right side of history. And I think people are wanting to be made part of the conversation that is our American history. And I feel that it is our responsibility as human beings and members of the human family to use our voice to ignite that change. I do think that is important. I think we are living in a very fragile time where we have the opportunity to be the people we say we are. Not just stand by and watch anything and everything happen in ways that will be disastrous for our future.”
Last week we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we also had memories of just two years ago when Florida resident, Desiline Victor was almost denied her right to vote because of intentional voter suppression laws. We honor and pay homage to those who fought a tireless battle for the basic democratic right to vote. With that honor, we are inspired to make sure we aren't fighting this same fight in the next 50 years to come.
On October 28th, 2013, Desiline Victor set out to participate in early voting at North Miami Library. During her three hour wait to vote, poll workers instructed her to come back later. Mrs. Victor, who at the time was 102 years old, was told she could have to wait in line for up to six hours. It wasn’t until late evening that Desiline Victor was able to cast her ballot. To us, Desiline Victor is an unsung hero and an example of why we will not shy away or be hushed about voter suppression.
"Two years later and we’re still here." One of her sons, Mathieu Pierre Louis reflects on the events of that day, “I’m the one who dropped her off there, and was going to pick her up. And she told me about it. She said, ‘I can’t vote. They won’t let me vote because they are too many people in the line’. If we’re going to celebrate the anniversary of voting rights, something needs to be changed. I want something to be changed for my mother. She’s still alive, the next elections are coming up and God willing she will make it to vote again.”
Last week, President Barack Obama said, "It [Voting Rights Act] broke down legal barriers at the State level and local level that kept African-Americans from being able to vote." With the countless stories of disenfranchisement, we acknowledge not much has changed and without the VRA there will be efforts to suppress the votes of people of color and the poor. By restoring the Voting Rights Act, we can protect voters in Southern States from discriminatory changes in voting procedures.
The two key provisions of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 (H.B. 2867, S. 1659):
- Discriminatory Voter ID Laws Would Not Be Treated Differently Than Other Forms of Discrimination In Voting.
- Its Protections Include Coverage Of All Southern States With Ongoing Discrimination:
The most discriminated states, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia would all be immediately covered and would have to submit any changes in voting to the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court, to prove that they would not be discriminatory. Once again, changes in voting procedures would be frozen until they are “precleared” and not test-driven during elections.
New Florida Majority stands alongside Mrs. Desiline Victor, Mathieu Pierre, and countless civil rights leaders in the push for our fundamental right-the right to vote.
WILL YOU JOIN US?
Click here to sign our petition in support of restoring the Voting Rights Act
Despite His Claims to the Contrary, Bush’s Executive Order Banning Affirmative Action Led to Decreased African American Enrollment
|CAP Action analysis finds that Bush’s executive order banning affirmative action led to decreased enrollment of African American students.|
Washington, D.C. — On the campaign trail, one of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) biggest selling points is that he can appeal to groups outside of the traditional Republican coalition, such as African Americans. He bemoans the lack of opportunity for Americans to rise up into the middle class. Nonetheless, according to a new analysis, "Opportunity for Some," released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, then-Gov. Bush erected new barriers for many African Americans hoping to attend a four-year state university by signing an executive order banning affirmative action in Florida.
While Gov. Bush claims his executive order banning affirmative action led to an increase in the number of African American students in Florida’s state university system, African American enrollment in selective, four-year public universities in Florida actually dropped 10.9 percent from 2000 to 2013. At the same time, African American enrollment increased 3.5 percent nationally. Moreover, during that same period of time, the African American share of Florida’s population grew by 7 percent. If black enrollment fell at the same rate nationwide as it did in Florida, it would have resulted in a 13.9 percent drop in the number of black students enrolled in four-year public universities—a total of 85,726 fewer African American college students across the country.
"Similar to many issues Republicans are talking about today, the gap between Jeb Bush’s rhetoric of inclusion and the reality of the impact of the policies he has enacted is massive," said Arkadi Gerney, Senior Vice President of Campaigns and Strategies at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. "From Stand Your Ground to purging voters and cutting off access to education, Bush’s record shows a disparate impact on communities of color."
Attending college is an essential step in upward mobility and expanding opportunity. African Americans receive one of the largest rates of return in employment and earnings benefits for earning a college degree. For example, black men who earn a bachelor’s degree see a median wage increase of 28 percent—or $10,000 annually—compared to those with an associate’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is far more beneficial for a black male than a white male, as a bachelor’s degree only results in an increased median wage of 13 percent—or $6,100 a year—for a white male.
Affirmative action does not just benefit African Americans. For example, diversity in the classroom is linked to higher levels of academic achievement and the improvement of intergroup relationships for all students. Employers also agree that a diverse workforce leads to innovation and creativity. When considering these facts, it is unsurprising that the American people support affirmative action in college admissions. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center poll, 63 percent of Americans support affirmative action on college campuses, including 84 percent of African American respondents, 80 percent of Hispanic respondents, and 55 percent of white respondents.
Read the full analysis: Opportunity for Some by Kristen Ellingboe and Anna Chu