Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown, co-founders of Black Voters Matter, and April England-Albright, National Legal Director of Black Voters Matter, issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s State of the Union address: 

“Earlier this week, in advance of last night’s State of the Union address, Black Voters Matter Fund joined 43 other organizations urging President Biden to call on Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.  We were pleased to see him do so when he said: 

But 59 years later, there are forces taking us back in time. Voter suppression. Election subversion. Unlimited dark money. Extreme gerrymandering. John Lewis was a great friend to many of us here. But if you truly want to honor him and all the heroes who marched with him, then it’s time for more than just talk. Pass and send me the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act!

Biden’s call comes at a pivotal time for our democracy. As we continue to experience the fallout from an anti-DEI movement and the persistent threat to our basic human rights, we cannot allow the now decade-old Supreme Court Shelby County v. Holder decision to further erode fair voting practices. Since 2013, at least 29 states have passed 94 restrictive voting laws. Just last year, 17 restrictive voting laws were passed in states with sizable Black populations like Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas. 

“State legislatures are counting on inattention and federal inaction to advance discriminatory policies and maps ahead of the 2024 election, such as SB 1 in Alabama, which makes it a misdemeanor to help a person vote by absentee ballot, and the Florida Supreme Court’s slow review of a congressional map case that dilutes Black voting power in Duval County. This is only a small sliver of the tens of suppressive bills and measures expected to carryover or be introduced this year. Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need for voter protection. 

“Black Voters Matter spent the past weekend in Selma with our partners honoring the heroes of Bloody Sunday and their tireless work to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act just as members of Congress announced plans to reintroduce the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We applaud this latest effort and urge immediate action to pass the VRA Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Both bills contain important provisions that can help to resolve the damage that was done by Shelby. 

“While Biden’s State of the Union address brings promising momentum to our fight for fair access to the ballot box, we know that there is much more work to be done. Trump is all but guaranteed to be on the ballot and remains a clear and present threat to our communities, including the freedom to vote and much more.

“Black voters must continue to use our power to organize and mobilize to ensure that our voice is heard in upcoming primaries and on election day. We must fight back and resist complacency to protect our right to vote and harness our power to elect fearless leaders who will fight for us and with us to protect our communities. The stakes are too high to stand by – now is the time that We Fight Back.