Appearing for the first time at the annual meeting of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) since taking office in 2000, President George Bush used the occasion to tout the 1965 Voting Rights Act and urged the Senate to quickly pass legislation renewing key parts of the bill.
“President Johnson called the right to vote the lifeblood of our democracy. That was true then and it remains true today,” said the president, who pledged to sign the bill that would extend the voting rights provisions for another 25 years. The legislation has been held up as right-wing GOP extremists sought to add amendments that would weaken oversight and enforcement provisions of the landmark civil rights legislation.
The President acknowledged the divide between the GOP and many civil rights advocates. “I understand that racism still lingers in America,” said Bush. “It’s a lot easier to change a law than to change a human heart. And I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party.”
“We welcome the President’s support for the Voting Rights Act,” said Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux, a delegate at the NAACP National Convention. “The right to vote is the most basic civil right we have. It is the duty of America’s elected leaders to ensure every citizen has full access to that right.”