The 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington is being commemorated amid moves by some states to impose restrictions on one of its central goals: the right to vote.
Two months after the Supreme Court declared a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, Southern states that had been covered by the act are taking steps they say will guard against voter fraud — but which critics say will make voting more difficult for minorities.
The court’s 5-4 ruling tossed out the formula Congress used to decide which states and municipalities had to clear changes in voting procedures with the federal government. The fallout has reached from the campuses of historically black colleges to the nation’s halls of justice.
“This has been a really, really tough summer for race and civil rights, and people are really hurting,” says Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “As we approach the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic March on Washington, we are reminded that the fight for equal rights is far from history.”
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