Barack Obama has once again called on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and make it easier for Americans to vote, in a letter to the New York Times Magazine. The letter comes more than a week after he marked the 50th anniversary of the 1965 act by asking Congress to pass new, broader legislation to address recent efforts to impede Americans’ voting rights. “I am where I am today only because men and women like Rosanell Eaton refused to accept anything less than a full measure of equality. Their efforts made our country a better place,” Obama wrote in Wednesday’s letter. “It is now up to us to continue those efforts. Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act. Our state leaders and legislatures must make it easier – not harder – for more Americans to have their voices heard. Above all, we must exercise our right as citizens to vote, for the truth is that too often we disenfranchise ourselves.”
His letter comes two weeks after the New York Times Magazine published a cover story on voting rights, A Dream Undone: Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act.
Obama wrote that he was inspired “to read about unsung American heroes like Rosanell Eaton”, who was one of the first black voters to register in her county in North Carolina in 1939. Back then, Eaton had passed the literacy test by memorizing the preamble of the US constitution. Now at 94, Eaton is one of the plaintiffs in the North Carolina case looking to repeal a 2013 bill which added new voting restrictions.