Earlier this month, New York Times Magazine published a cover story chronicling the efforts made to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Wednesday, the magazine published a letter to the editor from President Obama, in which he urged voters to support voting rights. He wrote about the “cruel irony” of the U.S. Constitution and the “so-called literary tests” that have denied Americans the right to vote in the past.
Referencing Rosanell Eaton, 94, who was one of the subjects of the article and is currently a plaintiff in the North Carolina case arguing to repeal the voting restrictions passed in 2013, Obama asked Americans to keep supporting the Voting Rights Act, and to push against efforts to dismantle it.
“Nearly three decades after Rosanell testified to her unbroken faith in this country, that faith was vindicated,” Obama wrote. “The Voting Rights Act put an end to literacy tests and other forms of discrimination, helping to close the gap between our promise that all of us are created equal and our long history of denying some of us the right to vote. The impact was immediate, and profound — the percentage of African-Americans registered to vote skyrocketed in the years after the Voting Rights Act was passed.”
He used the platform as a space to encourage voters. “Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act,” he wrote. “Our state leaders and legislatures must make it easier — not harder — for more Americans to have their voices heard.”