Jon Ossoff Rails Against Erosion of John Lewis' Legacy in Speech Viewed 600k Times

Democrat Senator Jon Ossoff's speech criticizing Republicans for not supporting the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act has gone viral.

Ossoff's Twitter account has shared a video of the full speech he made on the Senate floor Wednesday evening.

The Georgia senator argued the importance of every American having the ability to vote and the duty to remove unnecessary barriers that prevented communities taking part in elections, most notably Black communities in the south.

This speech came as lawmakers debated on the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. These bills have been praised for removing voting barriers as they would, among other things, expand voting access, make Election Day a national holiday, and restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Clips of the speech have begun circulating online with one video being viewed over 650,000 times. Ossoff also warned against eroding the legacy of the late senator John Lewis, whom the Voting Rights Advancement Act is named after.

"When Congressman John Lewis and Hosea Williams and Amelia Boynton and hundreds of others marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, when John Lewis had his skull fractured on that bridge for daring to demand the right to vote for Black Americans in the American south, it was the example of their courage and their sacrifice that paved the way for passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965," Ossoff said during his speech.

He continued: "When Congressman Lewis passed there were many in this chamber on both sides who rightly celebrated his towering achievements and his legacy.

"But I speak for the state of Georgia when I say do not invoke Congressman Lewis' name to signal your virtue while you work to erode his legacy and defy his will."

Senator Raphael Warnock also made a speech with similar sentiments to the Senate on Wednesday.

He argued that senators could not praise Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and everything he achieved while not also supporting voter rights.

"Recently many of our colleagues have argued that legislation to protect voting rights somehow offends our federal system of government and amounts to, they say, a federal takeover of elections," Warnock said during his speech.

He added: "Some of the same voices, ironically, who have extolled Dr. King's life this week have, at the same time, been working vigorously against the legislation we are debating today to protect the right to vote."

He continued: "You cannot remember MLK and dismember his legacy at the same time. I will not sit quietly while some make Dr. King a victim of identity theft.

"You do not get to offer praises in memory of Dr. King and then martial the same kinds of state's rights arguments that were used against Dr. King and against the civil rights movement."

Newsweek has contacted Ossoff and Warnock for comment.

Jon Ossoff
Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and other Democratic members of Congress hold a news conference to push for a solar tax credit at the U.S. Capitol on September 28, 2021 in Washington. Ossoff praised John Lewis for his work towards voting rights Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images