Renowned civil rights leader the Reverend Doctor Joseph Lowery is in Iowa this week. On Sunday night, he kicked off a two-day celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Speaking at Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church in Waterloo, Lowery expressed his concern that the act be reauthorized and enforced. Lowery says “We’re concerned because we’ve seen the right to vote…sabotaged and violated. We’ve seen forces that mounted efforts to deny our vote and failed. A vote not counted is a vote denied.”
Lowery says the Voting Rights Act is the most significant and effective piece of legislation passed in our time. Lowery and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. Lowery led the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march known historically as the “Bloody Sunday” march in Alabama. He says we’ve moved from a few hundred black elected officials in 1965 to between nine-and ten-thousand today, but he says that’s still less than two-percent of elected officials. The celebration continues with an academic symposium today (Monday) at the University of Northern Iowa.