Sarbanes Statement on Black History Month

“Hi, everybody. This is Congressman John Sarbanes.

“During Black History Month, we pay tribute – as always – to icons like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and my colleague in the House of Representatives, John Lewis. In Maryland, we take special pride in the achievements of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Justice Thurgood Marshall and the late Elijah Cummings, a friend and mentor who I had the privilege of serving with for 14 years.

“We also recognize the extraordinary contributions of ordinary citizens who work everyday in our communities to make a positive difference.

“This year, Black History Month carries special meaning as we observe the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, which expanded the right to vote.

“Today, that sacred right remains under constant assault. In states across the country, we’re seeing a growing number of efforts to suppress the vote and disenfranchise Americans – especially in communities of color.

“These efforts – which include voter roll purging, strict voter ID laws, limiting early voting, closing polling locations, disseminating deceptive misinformation about voting times and locations, along with a whole host of other insidious tactics – pose an existential threat to our democracy.

“We must push back. We must ensure that every American has the opportunity to vote. That’s why House Democrats are working tirelessly to protect and expand this sacred franchise.

“As our first order of business, we passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act – a landmark anti-corruption and clean elections bill that would safeguard access to the ballot box and make people’s voices heard in Washington.

“We also passed H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act and fight back against voter suppression.

“As we celebrate Black History Month and keep up the fight for justice and equality in America, we must follow the lead of inspired civil rights champions – past and present – to ensure that our democracy serves every single American.”