Friday, July 21, 2006

Days of Race

Yesterday was a pretty big day for race relations in America. The Senate voted overwhelmingly to extend the Voting Rights Act for another twenty-five years by a vote of 98-0. This follows the House doing the same last week by a 390-33 margin, helped no doubt by the compelling arguments of civil rights veteran and Democratic Georgia Congressman John Lewis:
“I gave blood,” Mr. Lewis said, his voice rising, as he stood alongside photographs of the clash. “Some of my colleagues gave their very lives.”

“Yes, we’ve made some progress; we have come a distance,” he added. “The sad truth is, discrimination still exists. That’s why we still need the Voting Rights Act, and we must not go back to the dark past.”

In the House there was some vocal but ineffectual resistance from conservative Republicans.

So too yesterday, President Bush finally deigned to speak before the NAACP. I doubt the speech did much to build much hope among an African American community with which he has earned deep distrust, but at least he managed to clear the space in his schedule for the first time in his tenure in the Oval Office.

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