It was March 15, 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson spoke to a join session of Congress
to call for passage of the Voting Rights Act, just eight days after Bloody Sunday. In that speech he said, "And we shall
overcome," echoing the great anthem of the civil rights movement. With Pete Seeger
, who popularized that song, having just died at age 94, a fitting tribute would be for President Obama to invoke that phrase tonight from the same place where LBJ spoke it.
What the President could say tonight:
Today we mourn the passing of the great American singer and champion of justice, Pete Seeger. One of the songs with which he is most associated is "We Shall Overcome." Those words rang through this chamber in 1965, when President Johnson called for passage of the Voting Rights Act after peaceful demonstrators were brutally attacked by police in Selma, Alabama. At the head of that peaceful march was a brave young man who nearly died that day, but who survived to become a conscience of our nation. Congressman Lewis, please stand. Thank you, sir. Let us honor that generation, and the cause for which so many gave their lives, by passing voting rights reform. No one who loves this country should seek to win an election by means of voter suppression.