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Hoyer statement on Black History month

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) released the following statement to mark the beginning of Black History Month:

“As we celebrate Black History Month, we pay tribute to those who fought for freedom and equality, broke down barriers, and contributed to the richness of our nation’s culture.  We remember those who risked their lives to escape the horrors of slavery and free others, who defied unjust laws and unjust leaders to send their children to school, who demanded equal treatment in the workplace and our economy, and who marched for equality and opportunity in the face of violent opposition.  We celebrate the trailblazers among us today, leaders like my friend Rep. John Lewis and former President Barack Obama, whose places in the pantheon of great Americans are assured.

“This year, we also mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, a large civil rights rally in Washington at which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out the case against denying people the right to vote simply because of their race.  In his speech, he declared: ‘The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition.  And so our most urgent request to the President of the United States and every Member of Congress is to give us the right to vote.’  Today, the right to vote is no longer assured.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been dangerously weakened by the Supreme Court, and the Republican-led Congress refuses to work with Democrats to strengthen it once more.  The result has been the return of discriminatory laws and practices across many of the jurisdictions in which Dr. King, Rep. Lewis, and others worked so hard to achieve equal access to the ballot box – laws and practices that make it harder for African-Americans and other minorities to participate fully in our democracy.

“In celebrating Black History this month, let us rededicate ourselves to the work of restoring voting rights and securing equal access to justice, jobs, and opportunity for all.  As Justice Thurgood Marshall, who first took his seat on the Supreme Court fifty years ago, used to say, ‘Sometimes history takes things into its own hands.’  In 2017, the tide of history has lifted us all to this moment and asks us once again to speak out, lock arms, and march together in demand of the basic rights all Americans deserve.  I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights organizations to ensure that the arc of Black History continues to bend in the direction of progress, justice, opportunity, and equality.”

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