Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 28, 2013

HAMILTON: Loss of Voter Rights Act is a reflective win

Niagara Gazette — When it comes to the reduction of the Voter Rights Act of 1965, some people just can’t won’t their victory trophy.

Buffalo preacher Darius Pridgen once spoke at a Niagara Falls MLK event on the subject of, “Are we there yet?” In other words, have we, African-Americans, reached the level of equality of which Martin L. King once spoke?

Even with New Yorkers electing blacks as mayors, countless numbers as state and other legislators, a state comptroller, a lieutenant governor who became governor, and a president, we are not yet quite there.

But we are close; we are only about six or seven inches away — and that is the distance between our own ears. Sadly, it is how we think about ourselves, and our own inability to recognize the signs of success.

Take the case of Georgia Democratic Congressman John Lewis, who claims to have spent his entire life working for the equality for all Americans.

When the Supreme Court ruled on stripping a key component of the Voter Rights Act, Lewis is quoted as saying, “I think what the court did today is stab the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in its very heart.”

But Mr. Lewis, weren’t you working to create the circumstances in which such a law would not be necessary?

Well, congratulations — you won. But if you believed in what you were doing, then the question should have always been, “When will America reach the plateau of Dr. King’s Mountaintop where affirmative action, including the Voter Rights Act, will be deemed completely unnecessary?”

Many of us didn’t recognize that inevitable. Five years ago, in a Niagara Gazette published column, I first asked the question if affirmative action would end with an Obama win. I got a lot of negative feedback with that one; but lo and behold, I’ll be doggone it, it did!

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