In response to the recent police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, more than two dozen Black women in entertainment posted an open letter to Congress on June 25. It serves as a call to action to immediately pass the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.
The letter—which was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and signed by Tina Knowles-Lawson and members of the Mothers of the Movement—also places emphasis on the need to fight voter suppression.
“It’s the job of policymakers to ensure that our systems work, especially when there is a crisis like our current pandemic,” says the letter. “Thursday, June 25 marks the seventh anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder case, in which the United States Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and upended decades of progress. Over the past seven years, states and localities have reverted to discriminatory practices that restrict the voting rights of Black, Brown, Native and Asian American people and have put up unnecessary roadblocks to the ballot.”
In addition to providing recent examples of the roadblocks that Black and Brown voters have faced in places like Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Louisville, Kentucky, the letter pressures Congress to push the proposed $3.6 billion allocated in the HEROES Act to support the state administration of federal elections. The group of women say they will work with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and All Voting is Local, via the And Still I Vote campaign, to increase advocacy.
The letter, which can be read here in its entirety, was signed by several Black entertainers—including Kelly Rowland, Viola Davis and Rashida Jones—as well as by the mothers of several victims of state-sanctioned violence: Gwenn Carr, Kadiatou Diallo, Sybrina Fulton, Maria Hamilton, Wanda Johnson, Wanda Cooper Jones, Representative Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), Tamika Palmer and Geneva Reed-Veal.