Apr 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

National Urban League issues dire democracy warning

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League speaks during a press conference, at the National Press Club.
Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, speaks during a press conference, at the National Press Club. Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images

The National Urban League's 2022 "State of Black America" report alleges that some lawmakers, consultants and violent extremists are plotting to "disenfranchise, delude, manipulate and intimidate American voters and establish a one-party rule" that works against the interests of Black and brown voters.

The big picture: The 46th edition of the group's annual report, released Tuesday morning, warns that voter suppression and growing income inequality could precipitate the collapse of democracy in the U.S. It warns that "political forces have launched an all-out assault on voting rights that disproportionately affects the communities that we serve."

  • "Democracy is under siege, and there's a plot to destroy American democracy," National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial told reporters on a call ahead of the release.

How we got here: The report says former President Trump spread misinformation and sowed doubt about the 2020 presidential election, inspiring and giving cover for GOP-controlled state legislatures to pursue even more voting restrictions.

  • But it said the modern-day effort has been building since the 2008 election swept Barack Obama into the White House, and that it accelerated after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County vs. Holder decision in 2013 gutted critical provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
  • State legislatures have been restricting voting access in districts with large populations of Black Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. The report uses data from the Brennan Center for Justice to make its case.

By the numbers: The report's Equality Index of Black America remained relatively stagnant this year, at 73.9%. That measure estimates the share of the pie Black Americans get compared to white Americans around economic status, health, education, social justice and civic engagement.

  • Black men’s median weekly earnings decreased from 73% to 72% of white men's over a year, and the homeownership rate gap also widened, the report found.

The bottom line: As long as an overhaul of voting rights legislation remains stuck in Congress, the report urges people of color to focus on five steps: Checking registration status, knowing your state's voter ID laws, knowing where to vote, making a plan to vote and voting in every election.

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