In the clip embedded below, Rachel Maddow discussed how Republican attempts to restrict voting access for traditionally Democratic constituencies has re-energized and given new focus to the civil rights movement. As the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom approaches, voting rights organizations and advocates are working all over the country to counteract the effect of restrictive new Republican voter ID laws and other attempts to keep young, poor, African-American and Latino voters away from the polls.
Maddow began by showing a clip from the August 1963 episode of “Meet the Press” that aired just before the march and featured Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP. [NBC will re-air that episode this Sunday in addition to the week's regular program.]
She welcomed Tulane professor and fellow MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, who said that while it’s important to commemorate the achievement that was the 1963 march, it’s also important to take stock of what still has to be done in terms of “a moment to step and look at the political and economic and social inequalities that continue to persist five decades after that march.”
“The thing that makes it newsworthy,” she said, “is that it is not just a marker of something that happened in the past, but an active part of an ongoing set of social movements that are occurring and potentially coalescing right now, around issues of ‘stop and frisk,’ voting rights, economic justice, racial injustice, gender inequities. And this march might be, just might be, a turning point.”
Harris-Perry said that the march was a moment, but not the entirety of the movement that spawned it, that it took years to organize and that its ripples were felt for years afterwards, including the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Maddow agreed that while the 1963 march was a major milestone in the equal rights movement in the U.S., today’s activists should remember that they are part of a historical arc.
“Is that the tactical lesson for the people right now, who are fighting for voting rights, who are fighting on issues like ‘stop and frisk,’ who are fighting on some of these others issue who are so linked to that historical and current movement?” she asked.
“Certainly,” said Harris-Perry, and that while protesting on Twitter and signing petitions are forms of activism, “I think we do have to be willing to engage in the much harder and exhausting and sometimes almost-failure, pock-marked road of movement-building before we get to any place where we see solutions.”
Watch the video, embedded below via MSBC: