Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, a conservative Republican raised by a single mother who worked 16-hour days as a nurse’s aide, vehemently dismissed the comparison. He noted that in the Jim Crow South, African Americans could be lynched, put out of work, or subjected to literacy tests if they dared to vote—a far cry from today.
“As a person born in 1965, with a mother who understands racism, discrimination and separation and unequalness, a grandfather whom I took to vote and helped him cast his vote because he could not read, speak on a narrative that is frankly false is offensive,” Mr. Scott said. “Not just for me or South Americans, but for the millions of Americans who have fought, bled and died for the right to vote.”
It prompted the emotional return of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a liberal Democrat and son of Ivy League-educated parents who were among the first black IBM executives. Mr. Booker insisted that the racial discrimination of the past persists today.
“Don’t lecture me about Jim Crow,” said Mr. Booker, raising his voice. “I know this is not 1965. And that makes me so angry. It’s 2022 and they’re blatantly clearing more and more polling stations in predominantly black and Hispanic districts.”
Even resigned to failure, Democrats predicted that Americans would eventually rally to their side when they realized that Republicans in states across the country were working hard to make it harder for some people, especially people of color, to vote after the Democrats won the White House and Congress in 2020.
“Nothing less than the very future of our democracy is at stake, and we must act or risk losing what so many Americans have fought for—and died for—for almost 250 years,” said Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan.
It was a bill that combined two bills that Republicans had previously blocked four times with a filibuster, the Voting Freedom Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Extension Act.