Advocates Call for Voting Rights Act Renewal

Voting rights advocates are banding together to urge the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, which is set to expire next year.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the SCLC and Concerned Black Clergy said during a news conference Monday that the act is under attack.

They called Georgia Congressmen Lynn Westmoreland and Charles Norwood "Dixiecrats" and said they are turning back the clock on civil rights.

Westmoreland says certain sections of the act, which was originally passed in 1965, need to be updated. He cited section 5, which requires Alabama and other southern states to get permission from the federal government before changing any voting procedures.

The Voting Rights Act was one of the major achievements of the Civil Rights Movement and was championed by Martin Luther King Junior. Voting rights were the focus of the Selma to Montgomery March.

Leaders say they are embarrassed to see the Voting Rights Act stalled by Georgia lawmakers in King's home state.

Last week, Birmingham Democratic Congressman Artur Davis said the GOP's postponement should be an embarrassment as they try to "skim off a few black votes in the next four months."

The groups called on Congress to renew the act before the July fourth recess.