We Are the Majority and Now Is the Time to Act

Contact: Patrick McNeil, [email protected] 

WASHINGTON — Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement after President Biden’s State of the Union address:

“Our democracy is not a guarantee, and it is our rights that secure it. Those rights face well-funded threats from an extremist few. But we, as a diverse coalition of people in America who understand that we all have a stake in each other’s futures and successes, are united as the majority in this country. There are more people who believe in expanding and protecting our rights than those who buy into the lies that seek to erode those rights. There are more people who want to ensure tech and AI is regulated to help society and doesn’t undermine democracy with AI-generated fake videos or audio recordings or enriches and benefits only a few. And there are more people who want a society where we support and empower one another — in schools and in the workplace — to be who we are and to have real opportunity than those who stoke fear based on race, gender identity, religion, and disability.

“That’s why we are glad President Biden’s State of the Union address expressed the urgency and importance of all of these rights. We need to secure reproductive freedom for all; ensure quality education rather than banning books; ensure people can care for themselves and their families by expanding the Child Tax Credit; extend tax credits to reduce health care premiums; advance the rights of working people including through passage of the PRO Act, a minimum wage increase, and paid leave; protect the rights of LGBTQ people and pass the Equality Act; ensure that all people in America have access to affordable high-speed internet and fund the Affordable Connectivity Program; protect Social Security, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act; expand pre-K; and increase Pell Grants and invest in our HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. We must uphold human rights standards throughout the immigration process by enhancing protections for noncitizens in the United States — and recognize the inherent dignity of all people.

“The president told us what he believes we must do for an America that lives up to its ideals. Now it’s up to voters. If we want to see an America that passes laws to protect rights and expands opportunities, we must be able to exercise what John Lewis called the most sacred right  to make our wishes our future. We are elated that President Biden powerfully lifted up today’s anniversary of Bloody Sunday and called for passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. We also need to pass the Native American Voting Rights Act. Voting rights are the foundation of our democracy, and they are fundamental because they secure all other rights and freedoms. These bills must become law to secure a democracy that works for all of us.

“We agree with President Biden’s call to invest in prevention, which is easily our most effective and long-lasting way to keep individuals, families, and communities safe. When we invest in civilian violence intervention and crisis response, expand access to voluntary care and peer counseling, and make improvements to public health, we make our communities stronger, healthier, and safer.

“The president called out the Supreme Court for taking away a fundamental right for the first time in our history. We need a judiciary that delivers equal justice for all. The president and Senate leadership have made great progress, but more must be done. Time is of the essence, and all federal judicial vacancies must be filled with diverse nominees with a demonstrated commitment to civil and human rights.

“For too long, the voices of a few seeking to take us backward have held too much sway over those in power. But we, the majority, have the ability to shape our future for the better — and we vote.

“Now is the time to act. Working with our coalition members, we will continue to fight for policy that protects, expands, and defends the civil and human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person across our country. And we want to make it clear: Any politician who stands in the way of that progress will feel our determination at the ballot box.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 240 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.