|John Conyers, Jr.|
In 1965, when I came to Congress, I joined a legislative body that was still able to work together at times of national crisis. The first major bill I voted on, the Voting Rights Act, was a response to widespread outrage over the police reaction to the “Bloody Sunday” protests, including the beatings in Selma, Ala. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) and his Republican counterpart, Everett Dirksen (Ill.), introduced the bill, and the final legislation enjoyed more support from Republican than Democratic members, an almost unthinkable dynamic today.
Even after the divisive impact of the so-called “Gingrich Revolution” when Congress was truly tested, we were able to rise to the occasion. In 1996, in the midst of a wave of arsons targeting African American houses of worship, then-Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde, a stalwart Republican from Illinois, asked me to work with him on a legislative response. We disagreed on most of the major social issues of the day, from abortion to affirmative action. However, during this crisis we found a way to introduce and pass the Church Arson Prevention Act, which not only gave law enforcement needed prosecutorial tools but also sent a loud and clear signal to the minority community that Congress was willing and able to act.
Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©