by Linda Geller-Schwartz, Palm Beach Section VP of Public Affairs
Standing in the audience at the opening-night reception of a voting rights conference, I felt aprofound sense of NCJW’s place in history. I had the honor of representing NCJW at this national event in Washington, DC, “Moving Voting Rights Forward,” organized by the Leadership Conference Education Fund. Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) transfixed the crowd, transporting us back to that day on the bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965, when state troops violently attacked 600 Freedom Marchers. Every listener could feel their determination, fear and, then, the elation that came with the passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) — the most important piece of civil rights legislation in US history. Yet, almost 50 years later, Congressman Lewis stood before us at the reception, warning that voting rights are once again gravely threatened and that it was time for a new “coalition of conscience” to defend the hard-won gains for which he and others had stood on the bridge in Selma.