This month marks the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” marches in Selma, Alabama, a time that fundamentally transformed the fight for civil rights in America. On Sunday, March 7, 1965, hundreds of extraordinary people were brutally attacked by Alabama state troopers as they marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest racial discrimination in voting. The events of “Bloody Sunday,” as it became known, led Congress to enact the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — one of the greatest pieces of civil rights legislation ever passed. But Selma’s promise remains unfulfilled for all Americans. U.S. citizens in Guam and the other territories still can’t vote for president. We have no representative in the Senate. Our representative in the house can’t vote.
The hallmark of our form of government is that it is of, for and by the people. We, the people, decide who will lead us in government, including who will serve us as president — unless you are a U.S. citizen residing Guam or one of the other territories. Then you have no vote, and thus no voice, in your national government.
The United States was founded on the principles of equal rights for all, and that everyone should have the right to participate in their government, including being able to vote for those who represent them in public office. It’s wrong for the world’s leading democracy to continue to deny basic voting rights to citizens of its territories.
Those in political power must recognize they betray the Constitution and our ideals when they allow this voting inequality to persist. If we are a nation of laws and truly value the Constitution, we must ensure the voting rights of all our citizens are recognized and preserved, regardless of where they live.