With the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, African-Americans were finally promised the right to vote after centuries of disenfranchisement. The era of the literacy test, the grandfather clause, and the outright exclusion of black Americans from the political process had come to a close, at least officially.

The Voting Rights Act remains some of the most important legislation ever passed by the United States Congress, and I was pleased to see it handily reauthorized last week. I was equally pleased to see that an amendment proposed by Georgia Rep. Charlie Norwood (R), which would have significantly weakened the act, was rejected 318-96.

I was disappointed, though, to see that my opponent for the Democratic nomination here in the Georgia Fourth, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, was one of very few Members of Congress who didn't even show for the vote on the amendment. An act of such negligence strikes me not only as unethical but also as incompetent.
The representatives who voted against the Norwood amendment and reauthorized a functional and powerful Voting Rights Act fulfilled their responsibility to protect the rights of their constituents and deserve our sincere gratitude.

We have truly come a long way. There's more work to be done. But we've come a long, long way.