ABA President Joins Local Civil Rights Hero and University of Alabama Law School Dean, Student to Announce New Voting Rights Initiative
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 27, 2004 – American Bar Association President Dennis W. Archer today joined local civil rights activist Carolyn McKinstry, University of Alabama School of Law Dean Kenneth Randall, and law student David Lasseter to announce a new campaign to educate people on the importance of voting and of their rights and responsibilities as voters. During the announcement at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Archer presented a Voter Rights and Responsibilities Card developed by the ABA, and outlined a new initiative whereby University of Alabama law students will work to register new voters and to distribute 40,000 cards to Alabama voters.
Written in clear, simple language, the card offers voters the information they need to ensure that they can cast their votes, and that their votes will be counted.
“Our founders believed that an informed citizenry could use its votes to make the most important decisions about the course of our nation,” said Archer. “They can—but only if they fully understand their rights and responsibilities as voters.”
Archer also pointed out that, by helping to ensure that voters’ voices are heard in the democratic process, participants in this initiative would be helping to preserve the civil rights legacy forged by McKinstry and other heroes of the civil rights movement.
“During the 1960s, many Alabamans witnessed history as it unfolded,” said Archer. “Carolyn McKinstry lived it.” As a teenager in Birmingham, McKinstry was there during the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, her house was partially destroyed when a neighbor’s house was bombed, and she was participating in peaceful marches when local officials used fire hoses to disperse the marchers.
“Her story, like so many others, is the story of the civil rights movement itself,” said Archer. “I cannot help but think that if more people knew it, turnout in our nation’s elections would not be so low. If more people knew how much blood and tears were spilled and how much pain and sacrifice was required to ensure that all Americans have the right to vote, fewer would take it for granted and more would take the time to learn what it really means.”
Archer said that in distributing the Voter Rights and Responsibilities cards the ABA hopes to honor the efforts of the heroes of the civil rights movement by helping every American participate fully in our democratic process.
For more information about the Voter Rights and Responsibilities Card, or to download a copy, visit the ABA Web site at http://www.abanet.org/vote.
The American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional association in the world. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public.