The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) gathered at the Lincoln Room at the Capitol on Wednesday to honor Black women who have been protesting amid a battle to get critical voting rights legislation passed.
“We know throughout our history Black people had to fight for everything that we have gotten in this country, and most of the time, we are very fortunate that Black women have been on the forefront of those fights,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty, the CBC's chairwoman.
The Democrats have particularly focused on passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, aiming to stop voting restriction legislations which are being discussed around the country. Sixteen states have already enacted 28 laws that would restrict voting access, ABC News reported.
Beatty was among the protesters who was arrested by Capitol Police last week for staging a pro-voting rights demonstration, as Blavity previously reported. The protesters were shouting “end the filibuster” before they were apprehended.
"This afternoon, nine people were arrested for demonstrating in a prohibited area on Capitol Grounds. At approximately 3:30 p.m., the United States Capitol Police responded to the Atrium in the Hart Senate Office Building for reports of illegal demonstration activity," U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement.
Sharing photos of her arrest on July 15, Beatty wrote "Let the people vote. Fight for justice."
She also echoed the words of the late Rep. John Lewis, writing "Good Trouble."
Let the people vote. Fight for justice. pic.twitter.com/JnEUPl9KJW
— Joyce Beatty (@RepBeatty) July 15, 2021
"I stand in solidarity with the Black women and allies across the country in defense of our constitutional right to vote," the Ohio Democrat said in a statement, according to CNN. "We have come too far and fought too hard to see everything systematically dismantled and restricted by those who wish to silence us. Be assured that this is just the beginning. This is Our Power, Our Message."
LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, was also among the demonstrators.
“We cannot organize our way out of this,” she said. “We cannot litigate our way out of this, we have got to have some federal legislation to really be able to help us.”
House Democrats advanced the For the People Act in March, but the legislation failed to advance in a procedural vote late last month and remained stalled in the Senate. The bill, which aims to transform federal elections, voting and congressional redistricting, has been opposed by Republicans. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act has also fallen short of the 10 Republican votes required to clear the Senate filibuster.
With Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, the Senate Democratic caucus can axe the filibuster. However, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are opposed to ending the filibuster to make way for the bill.
Harris met with Black women activists on July 16 to discuss voting rights.
"I look at the leaders that are at this table, who are also women, and also Black women, and I see Sojourner Truth. When I look at the women at this table I see Ida B. Wells, Amelia Boynton. I see Fannie Lou Hamer; I see Constance Baker Motley," the Vice President said.
She also described the women as "modern versions of those great women."
"This meeting has been a meeting and a discussion among leaders, who are national leaders, who are American leaders, about what we must collectively as a nation do to stand up for our democracy," Harris continued.
Beatty vowed to keep up the fight.
“We are still fighting against voter suppression in a country that was built on the backs of enslaved ancestors,” she said. “It is simply unacceptable, and we're here today to tell you, we are not accepting it anymore, we know what we have to lose.”