Closing out the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference, first lady Michelle Obama focused on the importance of preserving the right to vote.
As the keynote speaker of the CBC’s annual Phoenix Awards gala, Obama identified voters’ rights as the nation’s most important civil rights issue. Reminding the audience of black lawmakers and leaders of the 1960’s civil rights movement, Obama stressed the importance of African-American votes. She referred to the voting process as “the march of our time,” asking the audience to make sure everyone they know casts their vote.
“This is the sit-in of our day: sitting in a phone bank, sitting in your living room, calling everyone you know—your friends, your neighbors, that nephew you haven’t seen in a while, that classmate you haven’t spoken to in years—making sure they all know how to register, where to vote, every year, in every election,” Obama said. “This is the movement of our era—protecting that fundamental right, not just for this election, but for the next generation and generations to come.”
One of the major obstacles facing voters in this year’s election are new voter ID laws implemented in several states. Civil rights groups feel that laws requiring voters to have specific forms of photo identification disproportionately affects blacks and other minority groups. Though Obama did not reference the laws directly, the topic remains a hot button issue. For the Obama campaign, invigorating black voters is a key to the push for re-election.
“We cannot let anyone discourage us from casting our ballots,” Mrs. Obama said. “We cannot let anyone make us feel unwelcome in the voting booth. It is up to us to make sure that in every election, every voice is heard and every vote is counted. That means making sure our laws preserve that right.”