The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Statement on the Passage of HR4

We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives’ decision today to pass HR4, a critical step in protecting our democracy. HR4—known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act after late Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon and our dear Advisory Board member—will restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and strengthen our freedom to vote. This vital piece of legislation will ensure that changes to voting laws that could discriminate against voters based on race or background are federally reviewed, so that we all have an equal say in our future. 

In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act to secure Americans’ right to vote, regardless of race, and prohibit racially discriminatory voting barriers. But eight years ago in Shelby County v. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted Sections 4b and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which set up a coverage formula and preclearance requirement. This devastating decision left our democracy open and vulnerable to attacks on the right to vote, especially for People of Color, students, people with disabilities, the elderly, and people in regions that had previously been covered. 

Since 2013 and in the wake of the 2020 election and historic voter turnout, a barrage of restrictive voting laws have been passed. In fact, in 2021 alone, eighteen states have already enacted over 30 laws that will make it more difficult for Americans to vote. We are at a turning point in our nation. For democracy to work for all of us, it must include all of us. No matter our race, party, or zip code, we all have a right to an equal say in the decisions that shape our future. 

As an organization that exists to live the legacy of Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Schwerner—who were murdered by the KKK for believing that our democracy should be free from racial discrimination—we commend today’s action. We now urge President Joe Biden and the U.S. Senate to eliminate the filibuster and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Congress must pass this crucial legislation to ensure that Americans can safely and freely cast our ballots and that our elections reflect the will of the people.