Rep. Maxine Waters delivered a blistering defense of race-conscious politics on Sunday, telling thousands of delegates to the NAACP’s national convention that conservative politicians are actively working to roll back the voting rights of African-Americans ahead of the 2012 presidential election.
“With only 15 months left before the next presidential election, Republicans are rewriting voting laws to require photo identification at the polls, reduce the number of days of early voting and to enhance voting restrictions against ex-felons and out-of-state students,” Waters said, citing legislation signed into law by GOP governors in Texas, Wisconsin and Florida.
“Make no mistake: We have been down this road before with Jim Crow laws,” Waters added, calling the laws “21st century poll taxes and literacy tests.”
Drawing raucous applause, the firebrand congresswoman from Los Angeles, where the convention is being held this year, said, “NAACP, I recognize that you’re non-partisan–but I’m not. Sometimes … we simply cannot try to get along with everyone. We cannot … be worried that some people will say, ‘Oh, they’re playing the race card.’ Those of us who are willing to step outside the box and fight for justice and equality must be prepared to take the criticism and make the sacrifice.”