An African-American radio host plans to stop eating until Congress passes legislation to protect voting rights.
“As a political protest, I am beginning a hunger strike today by abstaining from eating until Congress passes, and President Biden signs, the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Madison said. “And that began on this date. And I repeat just as food is necessary to sustain life, the right to vote is necessary to sustain democracy. Yes, my life matters. My health matters, but our right to vote matters more.”
Both bills were recently passed by the House but is stalled in the Senate.
Madison, a progressive activist said this is not just a slogan.
“It is what drives me and inspires me,” he said. “So I have begun this hunger strike, I should say this, in solidarity – let me repeat, in solidarity – with all those who are calling on Congress and the President of the United States to protect our voting rights.”
Between January 1 and May 14, 2021, at least 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote, according to the Brennan Center. At least 61 bills with restrictive provisions are moving through 18 state legislatures. 31 have passed at least one chamber, while another 30 have had some sort of committee action.
President Biden has urged Congress to take action on voting rights to combat the voter suppressive laws passed by Republican controlled legislatures across the country.
Last week, Senate Republicans block debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which would strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act, as a number of Republican led states are passing laws to restrict voting rights. Though 52 senators supported the measure including Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) it fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster, renewing calls to abolish the legislative filibuster.
The vote Wednesday came nearly two weeks after Democratic leadership in the Senate attempted to advance another piece of voting rights legislation. That was also blocked by Republicans with the filibuster.
“Since the Supreme Court decision, Shelby [County] v. Holder where they watered down the Voting Rights Act of 1965, here’s what has happened. State Houses across the country have passed [myriad] laws that have made it more difficult for people to vote,” Madison said. “And I am here to say, at some point we’ve got to change these moments into movements. And the difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice, and although this is a moral as well as political cause for me, it is a component of a much larger movement.”