With the support of thousands of people committed to equality, we’ve made great progress fighting hate and seeking justice in 2013, despite facing a historic backlash against the gains of the last 50 years – a radical attack on our country’s most fundamental ideals.
This afternoon, I had the privilege of attending the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley (Cynthia Diane Morris) — the four little girls who were killed in the Birmingham church bombing by Klansmen 50 years ago this month.
Forty-eight years ago, SPLC founder Morris Dees stood at the Alabama Capitol at the end of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march and heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak on the importance of the vote in democracy. In his view, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — the section that contains extra voting rights protections that apply mainly to the South — is still necessary.
Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a blow to Arizona’s anti-immigrant law and similar copycat laws that have sprung up in other states. The court’s decision affirms that much about these laws is unconstitutional because many of their provisions are preempted by federal law. The decision also shows the court has significant concerns about the one provision they allowed to stand.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the Selma-to-Montgomery March, we should rededicate ourselves to the cause with a renewed sense of urgency and the determination of those who marched the 54 miles to the Alabama Capitol.