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Civil Rights Legend's Death Animates Fight Over Voting Rights Act

Lawrence Guyot (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
Lawrence Guyot (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Colorlines' Brentin Mock wonders what legendary civil rights activist Lawrence Guyot, who died in November, would have to say about the Voting Rights Act case coming before the Supreme Court next year.

Few people have taken as many fists and gun butts to the head, kicks to the gut and hours of torturous treatment as Lawrence Guyot, an original civil rights soldier who continued struggling all the way up to his death on Nov. 23, at the age of 73 …

The Court can either leave VRA in tact — and given Chief Justice John Roberts' antagonism towards it, that seems unlikely — or, they can strike Section 5. In either event, it should be a trigger for Congress to come up with a new game plan.

Kendall wrote in his original post, "Mr. Guyot will not be in the courtroom as the Supreme Court takes up Shelby County, but his story should loom over the Court's deliberations and should lead the Court to affirm, rather than strike down, this iconic and still essential law."

So what would Guyot do? Or rather, what he say about VRA in its current form? Do we owe it to his legacy to iron out the wrinkles in the law he fought for, or would it be honorable enough to preserve it as is? We know that he supported marriage equality far before most of the nation did — an issue also presently before the Supreme Court. So he was a man who pointed the conversation about civil rights both forward and backward. His friend Denise Reed said of him in Highbrow Magazine, "He connected the past with [the present], so people would learn from it, gain strength from it, not forget and keep in mind the relevance of his experience."


Read Brentin Mock's entire piece at Colorlines.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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