“Just as my father went to the White House with (President Lyndon B.) Johnson and then went to the streets in Selma, Alabama, I’m with the whole process,” she said.
Georgia NAACP President Barbara Pierce said her organization did not sign onto the statement from the other civil rights groups, but she echoes their calls for Biden and Harris to focus on getting laws passed in Washington.
“At the same time, we welcome them to Georgia if they’re going to bring us some support of what our goals are,” Pierce said.
One bill that Biden and Harris will champion is named for the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon who called Atlanta home. It would reinstate federal oversight of changes in election laws in states and municipalities that meet certain criteria. The other would make Election Day a holiday, limit voter purges, allow people to register to vote and cast a ballot the same day, and create national standards for redistricting, early voting, drop boxes and voting by mail.
The nation’s leaders “will speak to the American people about the urgent need to pass legislation to protect the constitutional right to vote and the integrity of our elections,” the White House said in a release ahead of Biden and Harris’ visit.
There are two primary roadblocks to getting bills passed. One is the opposition from Senate Republicans who have used the 60-vote filibuster rules to block action. The other factor is the reluctance of Democratic U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to change Senate rules that would allow Democrats to pass the bills without Republicans’ support.
It is unclear whether either Biden or Harris will directly address these realities or provide a road map for how to overcome them.
African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Reginald Jackson, who oversees congregations in Georgia, said he will be listening for Biden and Harris to acknowledge the work faith leaders and activists have been doing to protect the right to vote and commit to matching those efforts.
“Having mobilized hundreds of thousands of voters in 2020 in Georgia, we need to see the president and vice president show immediate urgency, passion and unequivocal support for voting rights — including dismantling the filibuster if needed,” he said. “Our very democracy is at stake, and it’s imperative the White House starts understanding this fact and moves quickly to get this done.”
Staff writer Ernie Suggs contributed to this article.