Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0191
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Full Text of HR0191  99th General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, The right to vote is one of the most fundamental
3rights afforded to American citizens; and
4    WHEREAS, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed "The denial
5of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest
6mandates of our democratic traditions and it is democracy
7turned upside down"; and
8    WHEREAS, Despite receiving the right to equal protection
9under the law with the Fourteenth Amendment and the right to
10vote with the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States
11Constitution, ratified in 1868 and 1870, respectively, African
12Americans in the country's southern states were routinely
13intimidated, harassed, and assaulted when they tried to
14register to vote; and
15    WHEREAS, On May 17, 1957, in the Prayer Pilgrimage for
16Freedom, nearly 25,000 demonstrators gathered at the Lincoln
17Memorial in Washington, D.C. to urge the federal government to
18stand by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 Brown vs. Board of
19Education decision declaring segregation in public schools to
20be unconstitutional; it was at the Prayer Pilgrimage for
21Freedom that a young civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther
22King, Jr., called for voting rights for African Americans in



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1his Give Us The Ballot speech, launching the issue to national
2attention and introducing Dr. King as the pre-eminent national
3leader of the civil rights movement; and
4    WHEREAS, While the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended
5segregation in public places and ended discrimination on the
6job, it did not abolish "voter qualification" and thus did not
7curb the use of literacy tests, poll taxes, economic
8retaliation, repression from authorities, and physical
9violence against African-American voters; and
10    WHEREAS, In 1964, many demonstrations were held demanding
11voting rights for African Americans, often accompanied by
12considerable violence against non-violent protesters, bringing
13renewed attention to the issue of the constitutionally
14guaranteed right to vote; and
15    WHEREAS, On February 18, 1965, while participating in a
16peaceful voting rights march in Marion, Alabama, Jimmie Lee
17Jackson, an unarmed voting-rights protestor, was beaten by
18Alabama state troopers and fatally shot by a state trooper; the
19tragedy inspired a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to
20bring the issue of voting rights to Governor George Wallace's
21front door; and
22    WHEREAS, On March 7, 1965, a peaceful demonstrators



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1attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, only for
2participants to be attacked at the Edmund Pettus Bridge by
3state troopers with billy clubs and tear gas; and
4    WHEREAS, On March 9, 1965, after a second march attempt,
5civil rights activist James Reeb, a white Unitarian minister
6from Boston who had come to Selma with many other clergy and
7sympathizers from around the country, was beaten to death,
8bringing national calls for voting rights and inspiring
9President Lyndon B. Johnson to take action; and
10    WHEREAS, President Johnson called for the Voting Rights Act
11in front of a joint session of Congress on March 15, 1965,
12invoking the words of the protestors as he declared, "We shall
13overcome"; and
14    WHEREAS, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia's 5th
15Congressional district was pivotal in the success of the Civil
16Rights Movement and continues to lead this country as a member
17of the United States House of Representatives; and
18    WHEREAS, The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was introduced in
19the U.S. Senate as S.1564 by Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen of
20Illinois and Democratic Sen. Mike Mansfield of Montana on March
2117, 1965; and



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1    WHEREAS, On March 21, 1965, protected by 2,000 soldiers of
2the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard
3under federal command, and FBI agents and federal marshals,
48,000 people began the 54-mile journey along U.S. Route 80 from
5Selma to Montgomery; and
6    WHEREAS, On March 25, 1965, 25,000 people completed the
7march at the steps of the Alabama State Capitol Building; and
8    WHEREAS, The Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed the U.S.
9Senate on May 26, 1965, and passed the House of Representatives
10on July 9, 1965, and was signed into law by President Johnson
11on August 6, 1965; and
12    WHEREAS, The fight for civil rights continues throughout
13the nation today; therefore, be it
16recognize the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
17on August 6, 2015; and be it further
18    RESOLVED, That the State of Illinois honors all of the
19individuals and organizations that helped fight for and pass
20this legislation, as well as the memories of those who died in
21peaceful protests for their right to vote.