Sharpton Calls on Biden to Push Voting Rights Legislation: 'They're Stabbing Us in the Back'

Civil rights leader the Reverend Al Sharpton called on President Joe Biden to push for voting rights legislation on the 58th anniversary on the March on Washington.

Speaking at a rally in Washington, D.C. Saturday, Sharpton recalled that when civil rights leaders met with Biden to remind him that on the night he won the 2020 presidential election, he said Black Americans had his back and that he would have theirs.

"Well, Mr. President, they're stabbing us in the back," Sharpton said, amid recent legislation in several states imposing voting restrictions.

He called on Biden to take action to push senators to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and to "carve around" the filibuster to advance the bill, named after the late civil rights icon. He said Biden needs to call moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and work with him to pass the legislation.

"You need to pick up the phone and call Manchin and others and tell them that if they can carve around the filibuster to confirm Supreme Court justices for President Trump, they can carve around the filibuster to bring voting rights for President Biden," Sharpton said.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore voting rights protections that had been dismantled by the Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported. The bill would require the Justice Department to police changes in voting laws in states that have "violated" voting rights.

Now the legislation heads to the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to pass with the filibuster. Sharpton urged the Senate to go around the filibuster, which he called a "segregationist legislative strategy."

"This filibuster cannot be the excuse not to reissue the Voting Rights Act as the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act," he said. "We will not sit back and allow you to filibuster our right to vote. We paid too high a price. People died to give us the right to vote. People spent nights in jail to give us the right to vote. People lost their lives to give us the right to vote."

Sharpton said that action will continue for voting rights in the fall, and suggested that there may be protests outside of the Capitol.

Reverend Al Sharpton
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 28: Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and President of National Action Network, speaks during the “March On for Washington and Voting Rights” on the National Mall on August 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. The event was organized to honor the 58th anniversary of the March On Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and also urge the Senate to pass voting rights legislation. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

"We are not going to stop until we protect our right to vote," he said.

Sharpton's comments fell on the 58th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington.

Through July 14, at least 18 states enacted laws that make voting more difficult including laws limiting mail and early voting, harsher voter ID requirements, and laws that make faulty voter purges more likely, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Newsweek reached out to Sharpton and the White House for comment Sunday, but had not heard back by publication. This story will be updated with any response.