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Caribbean L 18 ife, August 14-20, 2020
Assemblywoman Diana Richardson and Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem
Jefferies at the Capitol looking at the fl ag-draped coffi n of civil rights activist
and Congressman John Lewis. Offi ce of Assemblywoman Diana Richardson
Bichotte urges Caribbean
community vote to honor
By Nelson A. King
With the Nov. 3 US Presidential Elections
less than three month away and
the Early Voting period running from
Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, Brooklyn Democratic
Party chair Rodneyse Bichotte is urging
the Caribbean community to vote in
honor of “good troublemakers”, alluding
to the phrase coined by late civil
rights leader Congressman John Lewis.
John Robert Lewis (Feb. 21, 1940 –
July 17, 2020) served in the United States
House of Representatives for Georgia’s
5th congressional district from 1987
until his death. He was chairman of
the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC) from 1963 to 1966.
“Suffrage was earned at a great cost,
and is still in jeopardy today,” said
Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants,
who represents the 42nd Assembly
District in Brooklyn, in an email
message. “We must not take this right
“Visit the New York State BOE (Board
of Elections) site for information about
registering to vote,” she urged. “You
can register in person, by mail, or by
calling 1-800-FOR-VOTE to request an
Bichotte also noted that absentee
ballots returned by mail must be postmarked
no later than Oct. 27.
“Mark your calendar or cast your
vote at your polling place,” she said.
Bichotte noted that 55 years ago,
the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed
into law by President Linden Johnson.
This landmark legislation made discriminatory
voting practices, which
were employed across the south, illegal.
Bichotte said the act abolished literacy
tests and contained enforcement
provisions to ensure that Black Americans
would be able to exercise the right
Though many systemic injustices prevail,
she said the act legally secured voting
rights for Americans, “regardless
of the color of their skin,” stating that
Lewis’ activism led to the passage of
the Voting Rights Act.
On March 7, 1965, just months before
the act was signed, Lewis marched
across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in
Selma, Ala with 600 peaceful demonstrators
to advocate for voting rights.
Bichotte said the demonstrators were
met and confronted by state troopers
as they attempted to cross to the other
side of the bridge.
She said many activists, including
Lewis, were gravely injured by the
troopers, who wore helmets and masks,
and brandished nightsticks and clubs.
The day is now known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Although he sustained injuries,
Bichotte said Lewis continued to champion
voting rights, “and stood up to
racial injustice over the course of his
life and career.”
In a tribute to Lewis, Bichotte’s colleague,
Assemblywoman Diana Richardson,
the daughter of Aruban and St.
Martin immigrants, said on Thursday
that one of the things she admired most
about Lewis was his “commitment to
the struggle for civil rights, despite
being arrested over 40 times, despite
being brutally beaten, despite being
“He never lost faith that our country
was not living up to the best version of
itself,” said the representative for the
43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“Congressman Lewis was never afraid
to live in his mantra of speaking up and
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