BY PHYLLIS SIDES Journal Times
RACINE — Racine resident Phyllis Pittman is concerned the Voting Rights Act won’t be renewed. She became concerned a while ago when she received an e-mail that claimed blacks would lose the right to vote if the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is not renewed.
However, the information in the e-mail is false. Blacks’ right to vote will not expire. Although she now knows the e-mail to be false, Pittman believes Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act should be permanent and apply to all states.
“People should be vigilant and protect their rights. It’s all about equality. We need that protection. We need the federal oversight. We want it to be a law so we’ll always have that protection,” Pittman said. She believes some states might revert to prior practices of placing obstacles in the way of minorities attempting to vote, Pittman said.
Since she received the e-mail Pittman has become an activist, urging others to contact their legislators to urge them to vote to make the Act permanent.
The e-mail Pittman received has been circulating since the mid 1990s. Its most recent version claims that Camille Cosby, Bill’s wife, gave a speech where she said blacks’ right to vote would expire in 2007.
According to the Urban Legends page at about.com: “The confusion arises from the apparent assumption that it’s the Voting Rights Act alone which guarantees suffrage to minorities. In reality, all the Act does is keep in place a set of so-called ‘extraordinary remedies’ meant to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment at state and local levels, where, in defiance of federal law, obstacles to the voting rights of black people were still in place in some parts of the country as of the early 1960s. These remedies, designed specifically to address problems that existed at the time, were never meant to be permanent, which is why the Voting Rights Act comes up for renewal every 25 years.”
© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged