The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rep. Jamaal Bowman's Statement Following Voting Rights Arrest


Today, Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16) issued the following statement following his arrest yesterday while highlighting the need for voting rights protections outside the Capitol with youth activists and faith based organizations.

"Throughout the last year, my first year in Congress, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how we, as a people, can defend ourselves from the insidious steps elected officials across this country are taking to deny us our right to not only the ballot box but to a better, safer, and more equitable future," said Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16). "I've thought about our elders, whose sacrifices and determination, fuel me. I've thought about our ancestors, whose blood runs through me. I've thought about everything Black people, generation after generation, have already put on the line for our freedoms and rights. I've asked myself, 'what would Fannie Lou Hamer say and do in this moment if she were still with us?' 'What about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or John Lewis or Claudette Colvin?' More than anything, they'd want legislation passed and signed into law. Short of that, they'd want actions, sit-ins, and marches. They'd be proud to see activists from groups such as Un-PAC, Until Freedom, Our Black Party, the The Workers Circle, and Black Voters Matter giving this fight their all. They'd also want to disrupt the country until our cries are heard. I honor their legacies and their work-- the thousands of steps they've marched on tired feet and the countless times they put their lives on the line so that their sons and daughters could live to fight another day. Without them, there is no me -- the first Black Congressperson to represent my district in American history. So one thing must be made clear: I will not stand by and I will not stay quiet while the fate of our democracy continues to hang loosely by a thread that the Senate is hellbent on tearing apart."

"With everything that has already been fought over and for, there should be no reason people have to take to the streets, go on hunger strikes, or plead with our government to act in their best interest. But that isn't the case. The House did its part to pass critical voting rights legislation and legislation like the Build Back Better Act that would completely transform every community in America, particularly communities of color that have been historically left behind. Still, there are 52 members in the Senate who are a direct threat to our democracy and are standing in the way of progress. I had no choice but to join people and activists outside the Senate this week who are also tired and frustrated with our government. On Wednesday, ahead of the Senate's shameful decision to leave our democracy in peril, we stood in the cold for hours trying to talk to any Senator who'd listen and we read over the bills that have been enacted across the country to make voting harder. Yesterday, I was arrested alongside over 20 people, including youth hunger striking for our democracy. And I will do it again and again and again. I will keep doing everything in my power to bring attention to the crisis we are in and ensure our democracy functions in a manner that represents the people. Voting rights are on the line along with everything else we stand for. Our failure to act and save our democracy will have a devastating impact on every generation from here on out. I intend to do my part to prevent that from happening. The Senate's vote is not the end of this battle. If we all don't stand up right now and fight for our democracy, we might lose it forever. Now is the time to put it all on the line. And not just for a season. For the rest of our lives!"

Jamaal Anthony Bowman is an American politician and educator serving as the U.S. representative for New York's 16th congressional district since 2021.

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