That’s how long the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), which created legal protections to enforce the voting rights of Black voters, has been law in the United States. It’s even less time than that if you consider the law was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013 and again in 2021.
This summer, what’s left of the VRA is on the chopping block as the Supreme Court considers Merrill v. Milligan, a case brought by Black Alabama voters fighting to preserve their fundamental right to representation and to vote.
There are people who believe the Civil Rights movement is in the distant past, and the right to vote is settled history for Black Americans. But that’s just not the lived experience of Black folks in this country.
Many Black folks like me are only the second or third generation in their family whose right to vote has been protected the entire time they’ve been eligible to cast their ballot.
During this Black History Month, I am sharing and celebrating the story of my grandpa, Willie Walker—an avid voter and one of the first in our family to see his right to vote protected. I hope this reminds you that the fight to protect the freedom to vote is ever present.
Willie Walker’s story and the fight for voting rights didn’t stop in 1965, and we won’t let it stop with the right-wing Supreme Court either.
Every day, the Stand Up America community is taking action in states across the country to protect and expand voting rights—from advancing a state Voting Rights Act in New Mexico to restoring voting rights for people on probation and parole in Minnesota.