Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a pioneer in the America civil rights movement, is using the 45th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act as a rallying cry to get Democrats out to the polls in the 2010 midterm elections.
The Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965, guaranteed blacks the right to vote.
The Georgia congressman sent out an email today telling supporters, "Discrimination still exists in America - its effects can be as harmful as they were decades ago."
Lewis became a national figure following his prominent role in the 1965 marches for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. During the first march police attacked the peaceful demonstrators unprovoked and beat Lewis extensively, leaving scars that are still visible on his head to this day.
"When we tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, we were met by state troopers. They attacked us with tear gas, bullwhips, and nightsticks."
Lewis goes on to say, "No longer is the idea that an African American could become president just a dream. We live in a better world, a better country. But our work is not complete. We cannot wait for someone else to make change. We must all do it. You must do it. I must do it. Please sign up to help millions more vote."
Political analysts are pointing to 2010 as a chance for Republicans to take back the House and make a dent in the Democratic majority in the Senate. In a campaign that is centering around issues such as the economy, deficit spending, unemployment, immigration and the new heath care law, many political insiders say cultural issues may play into the campaign but they will not be a determining factor.