The same Voting Rights Act that grew partially from the March on Washington 50 years ago into one of the most successful civil rights-era laws has become a source of rancor, even straining the traditional coalition of Republicans and Democrats who have come together in favor of such vigilance. Marking half a century since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King gave voice to the aspirations of millions of African-Americans across the country is bittersweet for civil rights activists in 2013. “Within the civil rights movement, there is definitely a sense that there’s a continued war on voting and we haven’t made it to the mountain top yet,” said Katherine Culliton-González, director of Voter Protection for the Advancement project. “Here we are in 2013, at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and we’re having to try to stop going backwards.”
Blacks have never been closer than now to achieving King’s dream, but there is also more political division than in decades about whether changes to voting rights laws in jurisdictions across the country constitute an affront to civil rights.
Combating election law changes they believe are discriminatory is at the top of the agenda of civil rights activists, but many of Republicans and Democrats who have historically come together to support continued federal vigilance over potentially discriminatory laws are divided.