…The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the crown jewel of these civil-rights laws. It ended specific tools of racial discrimination in elections and was equipped to root it out in all forms. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also passed that year, established national oversight of federal funding in public education, to ensure all students had equal access to quality education regardless of income or geography.
These are just a few of the crucial laws birthed by one of the most consequential movements in U.S. history. Congress and the Supreme Court spoke powerfully into a moment of national consciousness.
Now Congress is poised to go on break even as screens across the nation show searing images of black bodies shot, tasered, slammed, punched and even killed by those charged to serve and protect. Not since Birmingham (Alabama) Police Commissioner Bull Connors’ attack dogs were televised for global consumption have the grievances of African-Americans against state and local police been so persistently visible.
Yet the elected officials who have the power to remediate such harms have enacted nothing of consequence that speaks into this moment. Americans have given Congress a pass because of its “dysfunction.” But the nation must end these low expectations and call members to account.
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