In his poem, “Let America Be America Again,” Langston Hughes wrote about the ingrained inequality that stains our nation, saying, “America never was America to me.” 

That stain persists, and it’s growing.  For women, who are denied Constitutional equality, America isn’t the bastion of freedom and democracy we need it to be.  For Black and Brown voters, America doesn’t protect their access to the ballot box, denying them their most fundamental democratic rights. 

But yesterday, the House of Representatives took a big step forward by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which corrects the damage done to the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder.  As this article from The Atlantic explains, “the decision has handed the country an era of renewed white racial hegemony.” 

That’s not news to us. NOW members know how severe this crisis is for our democracy, and we know what’s at stake. That’s why we’re working so hard to strengthen voting rights and strengthen democracy with national legislation like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act. We’re working with our coalition partners and grassroots activists to turn back the rising tide of voter suppression laws moving through the states. 

Our political leaders like to hold up our Constitution as a shining example of democracy, but the truth is our nation’s founding document is built on a mistake that has long demanded a correction. We can’t say we have a real democracy or true equality until the Equal Rights Amendment is finally enshrined in the Constitution.  

Constitutional equality is one of NOW’s core issues, and in recent months and years, we’ve made significant progress.  The House has removed the ERA time limit following the actions by legislatures in Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia to complete the ratification requirement of 38 states.  Now, the Senate must act. 

We need the ERA to root out systemic discrimination and eliminate the wage gap for women, a glaring inequity that is even more pronounced for women of color. This is why we are organizing tomorrow on Women’s Equality Day to #Rally4ERA with our coalition partners. We must continue to push for equal rights for all in our Constitution.  

Democracy isn’t a gift, nor is it a given. It’s something we must defend, strengthen and improve when it’s tarnished by discrimination, misogyny, and racism.  NOW will always be on the front lines of the fight for equality, working alongside you and our chapters, activists, and coalition partners to bring on the day when America is finally America–for everyone.