Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Naacp's Leader Assails Voter Id in Address Here

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Naacp's Leader Assails Voter Id in Address Here

Article excerpt

Speaking from the pulpit of the Hill District's Wesley Center African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, NAACP leader Benjamin Jealous talked Sunday of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Part of that, said Mr. Jealous, who is president and CEO of the civil rights group, means doing what's right for the community as well as the individual. And with the national elections just eight weeks away, there is no room for complacency.

Growing unease over Pennsylvania's new voter ID law must be addressed by the black community, he continued, adding that "this is not a Republican thing, this is an extremist thing."

In earlier remarks to journalists, he called the legislation a "bald-faced" attempt to deny minority voters access to the polls, saying: "If a law is not intended to solve a problem, it is intended to be a problem."

"We have seen more states pass more laws, pushing more voters out of the ballot box in the past year than we've seen in the 100 years before it. This is the biggest legislative season for voter suppression in a century.

"When you note that less than 2 percent of the delegates [at the recent GOP convention] were black, the reality is that in this very particular moment in history, it... makes you yearn for the likes of John Heinz and Jack Kemp and Republicans who actually had a civil rights agenda," Mr. Jealous said, "people who were able to articulate in a way that make people feel there was a space for all of us in the Grand Old Party."

He later noted that Republican governors in Michigan and Virginia did not support similar voter ID legislation this year.

Mr. Jealous was joined Sunday by other community leaders, including Fred Redmond, vice president of the United Steelworkers International and a member of the AFL-CIO executive council.

The latter cited a history of cooperation between the labor and civil rights movements: "We were partners in 1965 as we saw the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and we're partners today to make sure that not only [do] people have the right to vote, but that all votes are counted."

During a spirited church service, presided over by the Rev. Marsha Lambria, Mr. …

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