ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The podium at Harris-Stowe State University served as a pulpit for renowned activist Reverend Al Sharpton Friday.
“In those days they were fighting Jim Crow,” Sharpton said, speaking about the early days of the Civil Rights movement. “Today we are fighting James Crow Jr., Esquire.”
He took the analogy further, as the crowd of 300-plus inside the Harris-Stowe auditorium for a voting rights seminar cheered him on.
“Junior’s a little more polished than his daddy, a little more educated, he talks in a refined way,” he said. “But the results and the goals are the same. Jim Crow said ‘I’m going to have a poll tax…I’m going to ask you how many bubbles in a bar of soap’. James Crow Jr. is too smart for that. He says ‘You have to have a government-issued photo I.D’.”
According to organizers of the symposium, it’s estimated that 250,000 Missourians lack a state ID and cannot cast a ballot.
An additional 33,000 have expired ID’s, leaving their voting rights at risk.
And Sharpton told KMOX news that impacts one particular segment of the population more than others.
“It has a disproportionate impact on blacks and Latinos,” he said, “and on young people who may not have a driver’s license, or seniors who don’t drive anymore and don’t have passports.”
As KMOX reported earlier, a judge is hearing arguments in a lawsuit challenging a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would clear the way for requiring voters to show photo identification.
The Republican-led Legislature last year passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would clear the way for separate legislation requiring a photo ID to vote and allowing an early voting period.
The proposed amendment seeks to get around a 2006 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that declared a previous photo ID law unconstitutional.
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