CEA delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly found voting rights activist Stacey Abrams’ remarks yesterday to be timely as we head into the July 4th holiday weekend and celebrate our democracy.
“One of the reasons I’m always so honored to be in community with the NEA is because you speak for so many young people who may not have the power to act on their own, but they have you to lift their voices up, to make choices that can improve their lives, and to share the values that can build a brighter future for each of them,” Abrams told educators.
She said that, though the United States likes to hold itself up as an exemplar of what democracy can mean, we are currently watching an erosion of our voting rights, the likes of which we have not seen since the mid-twentieth century.
“We should not be worried based on our partisanship,” Abrams said. “We should be worried because of our citizenship, because it is an act of patriotism to defend the right to vote even for those with whom you disagree.”
She told delegates that yesterday’s Supreme Court decision rolling back voting rights should anger us, but not defeat us. As we sit between Juneteenth and July 4th, Abrams said that we must remember that Juneteenth is not simply about the celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, it’s the story of justice delayed.
“It’s the story of refusing to acknowledge a changed world, clinging to the past and refusing to tell the truth,” Abrams said. “And on Juneteenth in Texas the truth was finally told, and it did not undo the past harm, but it created space for future good. And as we celebrate our Independence Day this coming weekend, we need to remember that that independence is something we didn’t inherit; it’s something we fought for; something we fight for every generation, every day. And we fight for it most explicitly when we fight for the right to vote.”
She told delegates that every educator who believes the right to vote should be sacred needs to reach out to their elected representatives to urge them to pass both The Voting Rights Advancement Act and S 1, The For the People Act.
“If we are right, than we’ve got to be righteous and consistent in our efforts,” she said. “Right now some elected officials feel they can ignore our voices because they don’t believe there’s a consequence. We need to keep calling, S 1 isn’t dead, it’s delayed. If we keep pushing we can make it across finish line.”
Watch Abrams’ full remarks below.