By Felicia Persaud
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. March 2, 2012: Who would have thought it? In 2012, 47 years after the Selma to Montgomery march, Blacks and Latinos would be re-fighting the fight for civil rights in Alabama, taking to the streets again to protest the state’s voting and immigration rights assault.
Alabama, which enacted 27 Jim Crow segregation laws between 1865 and 1965, is again the scene for civil rights protests and this time voting and immigrant rights have united.
Organizers, including the National Action Network, La Raza, the local AFL-CIO, the Alabama Education Association, the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, began their demonstration against on Sunday, March 4th at the Edmund Pettus Bridge against a federal lawsuit by Shelby County, Alabama questioning section five of the Voting Rights law and HB 56, the broadest law targeting immigrants.
The marchers are set to arrive in Montgomery on March 9th and will hold a rally at the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 came with the momentum of the Selma to Montgomery march, serving to guarantee all Americans the fundamental right to vote, regardless of race or literacy. The 2012 voting fight is over moves to shorten early and absentee voting periods, require photo identification and place severe restrictions on voter-registration drives.
HB 56, titled the Hammon-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, signed into law in the U.S. state of Alabama in June 2011, is regarded as the nation’s strictest anti-illegal immigration law, tougher than Arizona SB 1070.
The law allows police to hold any immigrant on “reasonable suspicion” in order to determine legal status; prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving any public benefits at either the state or local level and requires that school officials ascertain whether students are illegal immigrants.
It is a sad day in the recent history of Alabama that we have to revisit segregation’s past. For someone who has travelled through a lot of northern Alabama and seen the changes first hand of what the “new” Alabama looked like, it’s unfortunate that its politicians continue to bring such shame to this beautiful state with these racist laws.
But if there is one positive in all this – it’s that Latinos and Blacks can both lock arms over issues that affect all minorities. It is once again proof why the old adage: “in unity there is strength” is so important. Especially in these trying times in America for all people of color whose growing numbers undoubtedly scare the White majority of the GOP. After all, look around and see what most White, ring wingers see – a diminishing segment of White males in America as the brown and black population surges and more and more White women choose mates who are – yes – brown or black!
The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.