Jennifer Jones Austin Warns of Endangered Rights

NEW YORK – FPWA CEO Jennifer Jones Austin released the following statement leading up to the 58th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. The anti-poverty and advocacy organization’s new analysis shows stricter voter restrictions exist today for Black and Brown Americans than in 1965. Systemic disenfranchisement has exacerbated higher rates of poverty and unemployment for Black Americans, largely due to the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder (2013).

“Fifty-eight years ago, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, securing the right to vote for Black Americans across the country. Today, we commemorate the work of the larger-than-life leaders whose efforts led to this major civil rights victory—Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, my father Reverend Dr. William Augustus Jones, and countless others.

“We must also confront the ugly truth that voting rights are once again endangered. The erosion of the Voting Rights Act and proliferation of voting laws designed to disenfranchise and prevent Black, Brown, and poor Americans from voting is the beginning of the death knell for the Civil Rights era’s most important battle. As of January 2023, lawmakers in at least 32 states pre-filed or introduced 150 restrictive voting bills. America’s current voting landscape is sadly far more similar to the Reconstruction era than to 1965, threatening to roll back 200 years of civil rights progress.

“At FPWA, we believe this grave moment requires policy action. Ensuring access to the ballot box for Black and Brown Americans is a fundamental necessity in the ongoing fight against racism, oppression, and poverty. That’s why, on August 26th, we’re marching on Washington with Rev. Sharpton, the King family, and 100 other partners across political, cultural, and ethnic lines to finish the job started in 1963.”

About FPWA
FPWA is an anti-poverty policy and advocacy organization committed to advancing economic opportunity, justice, and upward mobility for New Yorkers with low incomes. Since 1922, FPWA has driven groundbreaking policy reforms to better serve those in need. We work to dismantle the systemic barriers that impede economic security and well-being, and strengthen the capacity of human services agencies and faith organizations so New Yorkers with lower incomes can thrive and live with dignity.
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