Stand for Freedom
December 12 2011
Over the weekend, NCLR joined thousands of Americans in New York City at the Stand for Freedom rally to protest the rise of voter suppression laws all across the country. Below is the speech NCLR's Rafael Collazo gave to rally participants.
Today’s organized effort to suppress minority voting rights strikes at the core of our most basic and treasured American values. This nation, built upon the strength, effort, and ingenuity of the millions of immigrants who came here to seek a better life, cannot allow an intolerant few to erase decades of work and sacrifice to achieve equal rights. While those pushing to stem the voting rights of minorities have attempted to disguise their effort under the cloak of ‘preventing fraud’, we know better. That is why it is critical that we are standing here today, united, in one voice, to let the American people know that this very organized and well-funded effort to attack one of our most valued freedoms must be stopped.
For years pundits and pollsters have referred to Latinos as the ‘sleeping giant’; an electorate that has enormous potential, but that has come short of realizing it at the ballot box. Recent census figures indicate that the ‘sleeping giant’ has gotten even larger and we have seen how that growth in population is also translating into a growth in influence in politics and policy in every corner of our great nation; the sleeping giant is most certainly awakening. The National Council of La Raza has played a critical role in encouraging Latino civic engagement, helping to register, educate, organize, and turnout Latino voters and we will continue to push forward with that effort, undaunted. But we must face the reality, that if allowed to remain on the books, many of these laws will make our work much more difficult and costly. Requirements on voter identification, the reduction of early voting days, address change requirements and other such measures will directly affect Latino voter registration numbers and turnout, and that is what they are banking on.
So today, on International Human Rights Day, we ask you to join us to help protect our right to vote; petition your local leadership, organize your communities, call on our national government to ensure that we do not allow the proponents of these measures
Issues: Civic Engagement, Latino Voter Participation
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas