A march that continues

The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington provides a great opportunity to celebrate the progress achieved in civil rights in recent decades and to remember that this struggle continues in our days.

Without a doubt, the presence of an African-American president is a powerful sign of the maturity that voters have achieved as time passed. It also highlights a process whose turning point was exactly that massive march that shook the very fiber of Americans and a memorable speech with which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream of equality, which resonated in the national consciousness.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, banning racial discrimination, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, guaranteeing access to the polls, emerged as a result of this movement.

It is deplorable and shameful that almost five decades after the voting law was enacted, it still continues to be controversial.

There is a movement among several Republican-majority state legislatures to impose new voting requirements, using the flawed argument of fighting voter fraud—something that has never been duly proven. To make matters worse, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision weakened this law, complicating the Justice Department’s efforts to protect voter rights.

In reality, the ultimate motive for today’s restrictive election measures is very similar to the past. Their authors are trying to prevent groups that are perceived as favorable to the Democratic opposition from voting. There is no more talk about race. However, the Latino and African-American minorities are, for example, the ones that are hurt the most by redistricting and the new election law in Texas.

The memory of the March on Washington 50 years ago invites us to reflect about the long road that is behind us. It is also an inspiration to continue to struggle today to encourage Congress to make changes to strengthen the Voting Rights Act.