Transcript: Rep. Cedric Richmond’s remarks on voting rights at the 2012 CBC Summit
Edited by Jenny Jiang
Transcript of remarks by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana) on voting rights at the Congressional Black Caucus Summit on May 30, 2012:
“For me, this is such an appropriate conversation to an appropriate group of people at the right time. And I say that as a beneficiary of the work that you all did years and years and years ago.
“But for you, we wouldn’t have the right to vote. But for our churches, I would not have had the opportunity to go to integrated schools and some of the best schools in the country. But for you who marched and sacrificed so much, I certainly wouldn’t have had a chance to be elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives and to the United States Congress.
“So for that I say thank you. I recognize that I stand on your shoulders, and with that comes an obligation to make sure that we protect those rights for the next generation.
“And it is an honor and very humbling to now work side by side with many of you and many of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus that I grew up reading about and idolizing so much now that stand on the House floor and fight to protect our communities is such an honor.
“We all know in this room how important the right to vote is. It’s your voice in government. But more importantly, it’s what validates you as being an American citizen and that you have equal rights as everyone else.
“So when the right to vote is threatened, it should alarm all of us.
“And our distinguished panel guests today will talk about the implications of it, the new laws. The Attorney General did that.
“But when we talk about the voter ID laws and we talk about the new hurdles and obstacles to cast your right to vote, those things are very, very alarming. And the truth of the matter is as we see them pop up, it’s a solution in search of a problem.
“Even in Louisiana and those southern states, you will not see rampant voter fraud or any of those things. So to come back with such an overkill, something that could jeopardize so many people’s right to vote, it’s something that we have to pay attention to.
“So we’ve come very, very far. And we’ve done that primarily because of relationships with our clergy and with our elected officials.
“And right now, we’re at a unique moment in time because we have the ability through one person or two people to galvanize and to get messages out to protect the community and inform the community. But that won’t always be the case.
“And we as the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) recognize that this partnership and this relationship has endured a long time and we need to improve it going forth because in years to come we’re going have to make sure that we can fight and take up for everyone.
“And I’ll just leave you with this, because as elected officials we get the calls in our office everyday, whether it’s Social Security, Medicare, voting rights, people who just can’t make ends meet. But you get those calls everyday too, and you get those calls all night, and you don’t have the staffs that we have.
“So we want you to know that we certainly appreciate what you do for our constituents. Your role in the community is the exact same as ours. We help people and we fight for those who normally won’t have equal say-so in what’s going on.
“So thank you for coming.”
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