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  • Celebrating 50 Years Since The March on Washington

    Today, 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and proclaimed his dream for an equal America, we recognize the courage and strength that the leaders of the civil rights movement endured. Following the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Democrats fought for the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights act, taking the biggest steps for equal rights in generations. Today, Democrats reflect on the past and promise to continue to fight every day for equality and opportunity for all, to make sure that we do not forget the legacy of Dr. King and his fellow civil rights leaders.

    Today, 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and proclaimed his dream for an equal America, we recognize the courage and strength that the leaders of the civil rights movement endured. Following the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Democrats fought for the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights act, taking the biggest steps for equal rights in generations. Today, Democrats reflect on the past and promise to continue to fight every day for equality and opportunity for all, to make sure that we do not forget the legacy of Dr. King and his fellow civil rights leaders.

  • 48 years after Bloody Sunday, the fight for voting rights continues

    In 1965, 600 Americans set out on foot toward Montgomery, Alabama, marching for a fairer America where all eligible citizens could register to vote and cast a ballot without fear or intimidation—and have their votes counted.

    But when they reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the marchers were met by state troopers, who ordered the "unlawful assembly" to disperse. As they knelt to pray, the peaceful protesters were brutally attacked by 150 troopers with billy clubs and tear gas. Fifty-eight people, including a 25-year-old John Lewis, were sent to the hospital with injuries. March 7, 1965, became known as Bloody Sunday.

    In 2013, more than 15,000 citizens re-creating the march were joined by the Vice President of the United States, who crossed the bridge arm-in-arm with Congressman Lewis and many others who led the fight for voting rights. We've made a tremendous amount of progress in 48 years. But even in 2013, the fight continues.

    Right now, the Supreme Court is considering challenges to the Voting Rights Act, whose 1965 passage was spurred by the resolve of the marchers at Selma. The Voting Rights Act struck down Jim Crow laws and measures intended to disenfranchise African American voters. In the years since, this historic, still-vitally necessary piece of legislation has been reauthorized four times with tremendous bipartisan support. The provision in question says that any changes in voting laws or procedures in the 16 states and jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination must be pre-cleared with the federal government—but even in 2013, it's necessary to ensure everyone who wants to cast a ballot can.

    Just last year, Republican governors, state legislatures, and conservative activists passed laws making it more difficult to vote—laws that would have a significantly disproportionate impact on minorities, the very populations whose access to the ballot has been protected by the Voting Rights Act for nearly half a century. Republicans tried a variety of tactics: slashing the amount of time available for early voting, enacting photo ID laws, and voter purges. Democrats and voting rights activists challenged many of these restrictions in court, and the courts blocked many of the worst measures.

    But what stood out the most in 2012 was the persistence of everyday citizens who were determined to cast their ballots. From the 300,000 Ohioans whose signatures fought back against attempts to change election rules to the 102-year-old voter in Florida who was told she'd have to wait in line for six hours to cast a ballot, the American people refused to let others trample on our rights—the rights that marchers, 48 years ago today, fought so hard for.

    As President Obama said just weeks ago in his second inaugural address, "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

    "It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began."

    For more information on voting rights, check out the Voting Rights Institute and sign up for updates.

  • Black History Month: Coming together to move America forward

    Last week, President Obama laid out an ambitious agenda for the year ahead: expanding access to preschool education for every American child, making the minimum wage a living wage, and reducing gun violence in our communities. But as our executive director, Patrick Gaspard, notes in his video message marking Black History Month, the President can’t do this on his own.

    Last week, President Obama laid out an ambitious agenda for the year ahead: expanding access to preschool education for every American child, making the minimum wage a living wage, and reducing gun violence in our communities.

    But as our executive director, Patrick Gaspard, notes in his video message marking Black History Month, the President can’t do this on his own. And as we celebrate the many contributions of African Americans throughout our history and the progress we've made in the fight for equal opportunity, this should also be a moment to focus on the change we still need. This month, let's commit ourselves to working toward President Obama's vision of stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger America.

    Watch Gaspard's message, then say you stand with President Obama in the fight to make sure our best days are still ahead of us.

  • Fourth quarter

    As mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson has seen firsthand how President Obama's policies on clean energy, infrastructure, and education have had a positive impact on his city. And with this year's presidential race reaching an apex, Johnson told the Obama campaign to put him to work and send him anywhere they needed him.

    As mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson has seen firsthand how President Obama's policies on clean energy, infrastructure, and education have had a positive impact on his city. And with this year's presidential race reaching an apex, Johnson told the Obama campaign to put him to work and send him anywhere they needed him. That's how the Californian found himself in North Carolina this week, campaigning in one of the most critical states in this year's election. It doesn't hurt that this is basketball country—because before he was Mayor Johnson, he was KJ, an all-star who played for the Phoenix Suns.

    "Right now, we're in the fourth quarter," Johnson says, "and we're up maybe by a point or two. The other side is digging deep. They're going to try to make a run. We have to open up the lead." And now that early voting has begun statewide, he's here to get out the vote.

    Four years ago, President Obama won North Carolina by just 14,000 votes—five per precinct—and it was the first time the Tar Heel State had voted to send a Democrat to the White House in 32 years. It's going to be close, Johnson says, and it's going to come down to the volunteers and organizers on the ground. But North Carolina has a chance to decide our next president: If Mitt Romney doesn't win North Carolina, it's going to be extremely difficult for him to win the White House.

    And what about those reports that the Romney campaign is pulling out of North Carolina? Don't fall for it, says Johnson. "In basketball, that's called a head fake. North Carolina, we can expand the lead here. We gotta play to win. We gotta get people out to the polls."

    Gotta Vote

  • Fonzworth Bentley tells North Carolina: Get five people to vote

    Fonzworth Bentley has a book, a record, and a TV show. He's worked with Diddy and some of the biggest names in hip-hop. Even with such a colorful career—and closet—he says getting out the vote for President Obama is one of the most important things he's done. This week, he's on the Gotta Vote bus in North Carolina—familiar campaign stomping grounds.

    Fonzworth Bentley has a book, a record, and a TV show. He's worked with Diddy and some of the biggest names in hip-hop. Even with such a colorful career—and closet—he says getting out the vote for President Obama is one of the most important things he's done. This week, he's on the Gotta Vote bus in North Carolina—familiar campaign stomping grounds:

    "Four years ago, I was in the trenches right here in North Carolina. I was cutting turf. I saw the difference a knock makes. I saw the difference leaving a voicemail makes. Eight years ago, this wasn't a battleground. Today, the color of this state has changed—red to blue—and that's because of you.

    "Vote.barackobama.com. I need you to Facebook it, text it, tweet it, Instagram it—whatever you got. In 2008, we won by 14,000 votes in North Carolina. That breaks down to five votes per precinct. So you need to not only vote—you gotta get in touch with five more people and make sure they vote too. This is serious. This is real. But I am confident—because I believe in you."

    Commit to vote

  • “We need President Obama”

    Kevin, the owner of Trimmerz, a barber shop in Fayetteville, North Carolina, says Barack Obama gets it. ''I’m supporting President Obama because everybody needs somebody who they can look at and say, ‘This person might just have what it takes to look out for me.''

    Kevin, the owner of Trimmerz, a barber shop in Fayetteville, North Carolina, says Barack Obama gets it.

    “I’m supporting President Obama because everybody needs somebody who they can look at and say, ‘This person might just have what it takes to look out for me. I see that all the time with my small business. I run into people with all their health problems. They can’t afford their health problems, they can’t afford to get the help they need. That’s why we need President Obama. He understands what life is like for everyday people.”

    Kevin is doing his part to get out the vote by registering voters—but not just because there’s a presidential election coming up and North Carolina’s a critical swing state. He says people can register to vote at his barber shop, with Obama posters and photos on the walls, “every year, all year.” Kevin wants his customers to be engaged in their community, to care about smaller races for the mayoralty, the board of elections, the city council. But this year’s presidential election really does fire him up.

    “I’m just excited,” he says. “You have to have something to believe in, something you want to pass on to generation after generation after generation. And I think this is the best force for us to do that.”

    Gotta Vote

  • Tracee Ellis Ross: No regrets on November 7

    Tracee Ellis Ross has been in movies and on TV for years—but hitting the campaign trail reminds her of how she felt when she first started auditioning for acting roles: nervous. Even though talking to voters about the election gives her jitters, Ross believes that it's so important to do whatever she can to help President Obama get re-elected. So today, she flew out to Ohio to energize college students and African American voters as ''one of millions of volunteers.''

    Tracee Ellis Ross has been in movies and on TV for years—but hitting the campaign trail reminds her of how she felt when she first started auditioning for acting roles: nervous. Even though campaigning gives her jitters, Ross believes that it's so important to do whatever she can to help President Obama get re-elected. So today, she flew out to Ohio to energize college students and African American voters as "one of millions of volunteers."

    There's too much at stake to sit on the sidelines, she says. "I care about my community. I care about human rights, civil rights, women's rights. And when it comes to women's rights, there's no question: President Obama was raised by a powerful women, married a powerful woman, and is raising two powerful women. He gets women's issues." She cites President Obama's support for equal pay, the first bill he signed into law as president. "Mitt Romney refused to support equal pay, and Paul Ryan actually voted against it."

    She says one thing in this election is certain: President Obama's the only candidate with a plan to keep us moving forward. We've come too far on the road to recovery to turn back—and that hits closer to home than you might think.

    "My best friend is a mother of three with three jobs," says Ross. "She and her husband are still struggling to make ends meet. One of her jobs does not pay a ton, but it has health care for her family. There are families like hers across the country and here in Ohio with similar stories. So I have to ask you—we have to ask ourselves: Who truly cares about creating opportunities for you? Barack Obama."

    At stops at Ohio State and Wright State, campaign offices, and outside a Dayton beauty shop, Ross's message was the same: You gotta vote.

    "Voting is one of the ways I know I'm alive—one of the ways I know that I matter. I remind myself that I am enough to make a difference. No matter where I come from or who I am, my voice makes a difference. I hear from people, 'Oh, Mitt Romney has no chance.' Well, if you think that, he might. We have got to do our part because it's going to be close. Do you want to wake up November 7 wondering, 'What if I had done a little more?' Let's make sure we wake up joyous , not regretful."

    If you want no regrets on November 7, find out how to vote in your state and sign up to volunteer.

  • Ohio small business stands with Barack Obama

    President Obama calls small businesses the backbone of our economy, and he's made good on his word: The Obama administration has helped more than 5,000 African American business owners secure more than $1.5 billion in Small Business Administration loans. Under President Obama's watch, minorities who want to start their own business have had greater access to the tools and resources they need to do so.

    President Obama calls small businesses the backbone of our economy, and he's made good on his word: The Obama administration has helped more than 5,000 African American business owners secure more than $1.5 billion in Small Business Administration loans. Under President Obama's watch, minorities who want to start their own business have had greater access to the tools and resources they need to do so.

    Keitha is an example. In July, she opened the doors to My Own Soul, a restaurant in Toledo that serves local food, made to order. Business is good, she says, and it's only picking up as our economy continues to recover.

    "I think that Obama has to stay in business," she says. "He's paved the way for small-business owners like myself—all the money that he's put into different grants and tax cuts. If he stays in office, it'll only get better, for me and for the generations after me who want to be business owners and entrepreneurs. Mitt Romney, I don't think he's for small business at all‹or entrepreneurship, finding a way for people who are coming from nothing to try to make something."

    She's doing her part to make sure the Obama administration does stay in business. Along with soul food, she hands out voter registration forms to her customers. To date, she's registered 1,0­13 new voters in Toledo, and she's urging everyone to make their voices heard by voting in this election.

    "We gotta get out," she says, "and we gotta vote."

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