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Gun vote revives memories of Civil Rights Movement

Lee A. Daniels | 4/29/2013, 9:36 a.m. | Updated on 4/29/2013, 6:41 p.m.
At first I wondered why I felt so powerful a sense of déjà vu last week when the Senate blocked ...
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. He collaborated with Rachel Robinson on her 1998 book, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. NNPA

If that charge sounds familiar, just remember that for years White and Black conservatives have declared that the 90-plus percent of Black Americans who consistently vote Democratic have, against their actual best interests, willfully imprisoned themselves on the Democratic “plantation.” Both charges carry the same, barely implicit insult: If you don’t share our views, you’re too stupid to know what’s good for you.

In a scathing op-ed in the April 17 New York Times, Gabrielle Giffords, the former member of Congress whose serious wounding in 2011 by a deranged gunman helped re-energize the gun-control campaign, castigated the “minority of senators [who] … looked at the most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby – and brought shame on themselves and our government by choosing to do nothing.” Giffords declared she would “not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done.”

The right-wing attack on democracy is also why, for the second time in less than five years, the Voting Rights Act’s key provision is being challenged at the Supreme Court – even as Republican state legislators across the country are re-doubling their efforts to restrict the access of Blacks and other Democratic-leaning blocs to the ballot box.

Those Americans who favor more, not less democracy, should follow the model of Giffords, and of the activists who decades ago fueled the Civil Rights Movement’s success – and get back to the barricades.

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.