President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris pushed for congressional action to protect voting rights during their speeches at the Atlanta University Center Consortium on the grounds of Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College.

Morehouse College president David Thomas and Clark Atlanta University president George French welcomed Biden and Harris to “these sacred and hallow grounds” — the same grounds where Civil Rights activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and W.E.B. DuBois walked more than 60 years ago.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Senator Raphael Warnock, Senator Jon Ossoff, Rev. Jesse Jackson, former Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson and numerous other local elected officials attended the speech. Stacey Abrams was noticeably absent from the event due to a scheduling conflict, but Biden told reporters he spoke with her this morning and everything is fine between them.

Democratic members of the Senate are pushing to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would make Election Day a public holiday, ensure that states have early voting and secure the availability of mail-in voting. According to NPR, GOP senators are expected to reject the bill. Democrats need 10 Republicans to join them to advance the legislation because of the 60-vote threshold required under Senate rules.

“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation,” Biden said. “Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is where will the institution of United States Senate stand?”

“Over the past few years, we have seen so many anti-voter laws that there is a danger of becoming accustomed to these laws — a danger of adjusting to these laws as though they are normal,” Harris said. “A danger of being complacent, complicit. Anti-vote laws are not new in our nation, but we must not be deceived into thinking they are normal. We must not be deceived into thinking, a law that makes it more difficult for students to vote is normal. We must not be deceived into thinking a law that makes it illegal to have a voter with a disability vote by mail is normal.”

Harris continued on to address Georgia’s ban on handing out food and water to voters waiting in line, saying there is “nothing normal” about that law. Harris and Biden harkened the anti-voting laws to the Civil Rights era, remembering the actions of the Freedom Riders, Lewis, Rosa Parks and King. Biden asked elected officials opposing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act whether they want to be remembered like those activists or the likes of George Wallace, Jefferson Davis and Bull Connor.

“The battle for the soul of America is not over,” Biden said. “You must stand strong and stand together to make sure Jan. 6 marks not the end democracy, but the beginning a renaissance of our democracy. The right to vote, and have that vote counted, is democracy’s threshold liberty. Without it, nothing is possible. But with it, anything is possible.”

“I’m tired of being quiet,” Biden said, slamming his fist against the podium. “We must translate eulogy into action.”

Despite Biden’s call to action, several voting advocacy groups boycotted Biden’s speech. Black Voters Matter co-founder Cliff Albright said Biden and Harris should stay in Washington unless he comes up with a clear plan on advancing voter rights laws.

“We don’t need even more photo ops,” Albright said. “We need action.”

Black Voters Matter Action Fund, GALEO Impact Fund, Inc., New Georgia Project Action Fund, Asian American Advocacy Fund and James Woodall, former GA NAACP President, also released a joint statement ahead of Biden’s speech.

“What we need now, rather than a visit from the President, Vice President, and legislators, is for the White House and Senate to remain in DC and act immediately to pass federal legislation to protect our freedom to vote,” the statement reads. “We need action. Georgians know all too well the urgency of this fight, and our demand is that our federal leaders act with that same urgency. There is no time to waste.”

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill by Jan. 17, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

“Each one of the members of the Senate is going to be judged by history on where they stood before the vote and where they stood after the vote,” Biden said. “There’s no escape. So let’s get back to work.”

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(1) comment

Mike Nelson

Even the liberals think those 2 are a total failures.

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