Obama, Holder pledge action on Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is promising not to let one election go by without protecting minority voting rights.

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President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder pledged to push Congress to rewrite the Voting Rights Act and also to join with civil rights groups to fight voting restrictions passed in states at a closed-door White House meeting with civil rights activists on Monday afternoon.

On the heels of the Supreme Court striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act last month, more than a dozen civil rights leaders and activists, including Al Sharpton and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, spent more than 40 minutes with Obama and Holder.  Civil rights activists are pushing Congress to create a new Section 4, but many Republicans in Congress are wary of such a provision.

Holder told the activists he would continue to use other parts of the VRA to combat controversial voting provisions.

“When you think about it, this is small-bore stuff compared to lynching and shootings and killings that happened 50 years ago,’” Obama said in the meeting, as first reported by Politico. Obama assured the participants, “this is within our power to change.’”

Here’s a list of the participants at the meeting, according to the White House:

Al Sharpton, President & Founder, National Action Network

·       Barbara Arnwine, President & Executive Director, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

·       Janet Murguía, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza

·       John Echohawk, Executive Director, Native American Rights Fund

·       Laura Murphy, Director, Washington Legislative Office, American Civil Liberties Union

·       Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League

·       Margaret Fung, Executive Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

·       Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice

·       Roslyn Brock, Chairman,  National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Board of Directors

·       Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc

·       Thomas Saenz, President & General Counsel, The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

·       Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

State and Local Elected Officials

·       Alan Williams State Representative (FL) and Chair, Florida Conference of Black State Legislators

·       Calvin Smyre, State Representative (GA) and Democratic Caucus Chairman Emeritus, Georgia House of Representatives

·       Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta

·       Napoleon Bracy, State Representative (AL) and Chair, Alabama Legislative Black Caucus

·       Trey Martinez Fischer,  Texas State Representative (TX) – Chair, Mexican American Legislative Caucus

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.