Editor’s note: North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican, spoke during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday on voting rights. Read the lightly edited transcript, below, or watch the video above.
You see, I’m the first black lieutenant governor of North Carolina, and I hail from Greensboro, home of the Woolworth sit-ins, an epicenter of the civil rights movement.
I grew up poor as the ninth of 10 children in a home marred by alcoholism, but I had a mother who was a strong woman of faith and she sustained us. She was also a woman who lived through the terribleness of Jim Crow and witnessed firsthand the sacrifices made by those to ensure that black voices would be heard in government. I know right now she is up in heaven smiling as she sees her son who is sitting in this committee hearing.
But today I’m not here to talk about myself. I’m here to talk about voter discrimination and election integrity. The subject of this hearing is the evolving landscape of voter discrimination, and it certainly has throughout our nation’s history.
Let me say that I am very proud of the history in this nation of my people. My people were put in the belly of ships, bound in chains, and endured the Middle Passage. My people were whipped, beaten, and sold as property during slavery.
During Reconstruction and throughout Jim Crow, black people were intimidated, harassed, and even killed to keep them from having a voice in government. Symbols like chains, nooses, and burnt crosses are not just symbols of death; they are symbols of forced and coerced silence.
The sacrifices of our ancestors so I could have the opportunity to become the first black lieutenant governor of my state, to see a black man sitting in the White House for two terms, and for millions of us to be leaders in business, athletics, government, and culture add up to an incredible story of victory.
But today, we hear Georgia law being compared to Jim Crow, that black voices are being silenced and that black voices are being kept out.
How? By bullets? By bombs? By nooses? No, by requiring a free ID to secure the vote. Let me say that again: by requiring a free ID to secure the vote. How absolutely preposterous.
Am I to believe that black Americans who have overcome the atrocities of slavery, who were victorious in the civil rights movement, and now sit in the highest levels of this government could not figure out how to get a free ID to secure their votes? That they need to be coddled by politicians because they don’t think we can figure out how to make our voices heard?
Are you kidding me? The notion that people must be protected from a free ID to secure their votes is not just insane—it is insulting.
And let me tell you something about this. This doesn’t have anything to do with justice, this has everything to do with power.
Just a few days ago, the vice president went to the very place that I mentioned, the Woolworth counter in Greensboro, but you know who wasn’t there, you know who wasn’t invited? My good friend, Clarence Henderson, who is a civil rights icon. He sat at that counter and endured the suffering and pain to make sure that black voices were heard. And why was he left out? Because he’s of a different political persuasion.
You might ask why this is so, and I’ll tell you plainly. The goal of some individuals in government is not to hear the voices of black Americans at all, it’s to hear the voices that fit their narratives and ultimately help keep power with one group. And that’s what this all is all about, it’s about power.
Just look at HR 1. It’s despicable. The entire thing is designed to keep one party in power and ensure they stay there indefinitely. And how do they plan to do that? By taking away the rights of states given by the Constitution to govern their own elections, to mandate a partisan wish list that comes down from that federal government.
Some of these items include using government dollars to fund campaigns in order to give an advantage to one party; mandating that felons are allowed to vote, including illegal immigrants on voter rolls; and of course, trying to ban states from having voter ID.
The last thing I’ll say is this, many people know that I’m a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, and I always will be. I believe that the right to keep and bear arms should always be available to law-abiding citizens, but the first line of defense in maintaining the integrity of the Second Amendment is having an ID to show when requiring that ID when you purchase that firearm.
In the same way, I believe that voter ID is our first line of defense for protecting the integrity of the right to vote. And that’s what this should be about. It should be about integrity, not power. Thank you.
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