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On this day 75 years ago, Dr. Lawrence Nixon walked into El Paso's Fire Station No. 5—two decades after first being turned away from the very same polling place—and cast his vote, ending the all-white primary and changing the history of voting rights. I want to share his story:
Born in Marshall, TX in 1884, Nixon attended Wiley College and then received his M.D. in 1906 from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. He began practicing in Cameron before 500 members of the community stormed the jail and lynched an African American man named Alex Johnson.
Concerned by Johnson’s public murder and the number of lynchings occurring across central and east Texas, and perhaps fearing for his own life, Nixon moved west to El Paso, where he became involved with civil rights work and established a successful medical practice.
In 1914, he helped organize the El Paso branch of the NAACP, which became the very first chapter of the NAACP in the state. Then in 1924, after Texas passed a law barring African Americans from participating in the primary, Dr. Nixon personally took up the fight against it.
Dr. Nixon took his poll tax receipt into Fire Station No. 5 on Election Day knowing full well he would be refused the right to vote. Turned away on the basis of his race, he mounted a challenge to the all-white primary — taking his case to the US Supreme Court not once but twice.
It took 20 years of court battles but Dr. Nixon was ultimately able to vote on this day 75 years ago. And because of him, and those who fought alongside him, African Americans across the state were able to vote, too. But our work isn’t finished.
In recent years, Jim Crow-era poll taxes and grandfather clauses have been replaced with other insidious forms of suppression, ranging from racist voter ID laws that reduce turnout to gerrymandering efforts that undermine the very notion that all of our votes count equally.
As president, I will make sure every single American is empowered to vote—and that those who have historically been drawn out of our democracy are able to make their voices heard so this country can live up to its full promise and potential.
Our voting rights plan returns power to people. It will:
🔵Enact automatic & same-day registration
🔵Make Election Day a federal holiday
🔵Protect the Voting Rights Act
🔵Abolish racist voter ID laws
🔵Increase turnout to 65%
🔵Ban PAC contributions
🔵End gerrymandering
Ultimately, this is about continuing the work of Dr. Nixon. Making sure every voice is heard and every vote is counted. Read our full voting rights plan here:
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