Street Vows to Protect Pennsylvania Voting Rights from Republican Assault  

PHILADELPHIA − June 17, 2021− State Sen. Sharif Street has issued the following statement commending the U.S. Congress for recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, and urging Pennsylvanians to remain diligent in protecting the voting rights from renewed efforts to disenfranchise people of color:  

“The historic establishment of Juneteenth as a federal holiday by the U.S. Congress marks another step forward in this country’s troubled journey toward realizing the ideals of equality and justice to which it has aspired for nearly three centuries. I am proud to have introduced a resolution supporting this legislation in the Pennsylvania State Senate, and as we celebrate this momentous occasion in our national history, we should also celebrate the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for leading the nation in recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday.  

Juneteenth marks the day when the Union Army arrived in Texas to inform African-Americans who were still being kept as slaves that the Civil War had ended and they were free– two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had outlawed slavery in Texas. I cannot imagine a greater example of disenfranchisement, and this recognition of Juneteenth comes at a time when efforts are underway across this country, and in Pennsylvania, to revive the Jim Crow era voting policies that had disenfranchised African Americans and deprived communities of color of their right to vote. It comes at a time when our country is engaged in a painful and divisive reckoning with our long failures on race, social justice and civil rights. As we reflect today on the legacy of Black Americans in our country, we must be diligent in ensuring the progress we’ve made endures and continues–that voting rights, equal pay for equal work and the demand for social justice are our mandates of realizing this nation’s full promise of equality for all.  

Make no mistake. The effort being put forth by the former president and his allies to undermine the integrity of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election, and the measures being proposed to suppress voting rights under the mask of ballot security, are nothing more than a revival of the Jim Crow policies that were used a generation ago to disenfranchise people of color and poor whites who live in urban areas. They are trying to put a different label on it, but these measures are literally identical to the Jim Crow doctrine that is a vestige of the discriminatory practices that our part of our nation’s history.  

From the founding of our nation, there have always been reasons and excuses to justify disenfranchising people who look like me. I want to assure the people of Pennsylvania that in Pennsylvania, we are not about to allow that to happen.