The struggle for voting rights is far from over, and President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Selma, Alabama, put a spotlight on this important issue. Selma holds a special place in American history, as it was the site of the 1965 Bloody Sunday March that played a key role in securing the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

In March 1965, civil rights activists organized a peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, to protest the denial of voting rights to Black Americans. State troopers and local police attacked the marchers with tear gas, clubs, and other weapons, resulting in numerous injuries and the death of a young man named Jimmie Lee Jackson.

The brutal attack on the peaceful demonstrators drew national attention and galvanized support for the civil rights movement. Just five months later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, which eliminated many of the obstacles that had kept Black Americans from voting.

Today, however, voting rights are once again under attack. In recent years, many states have enacted laws that make it harder for people to vote, particularly people of color, low-income individuals, and other marginalized communities. These laws often include voter ID requirements, reduced early voting periods, and restrictions on mail-in and absentee voting.

In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that required certain states with a history of discriminatory voting practices to consult with the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws. Since then, many of these states have passed restrictive voting laws that disproportionately impact communities of color.

The Biden administration has made voting rights a key priority, recognizing the importance of protecting the rights of all Americans to participate in our democracy. During his visit to Selma on March 7, Biden spoke at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church and emphasized the need to pass new voting rights protections and strengthen existing laws.

“We’re in a battle for the soul of America, and the battle for the soul of America has been carried out in one of the most consequential cities in this country’s history,” Biden said.

Biden also announced that he would sign an executive order aimed at increasing access to voting, including measures to expand early voting and vote-by-mail, as well as directing federal agencies to help register eligible voters.

“We can and we must deliver the right to vote, and ensure that our democracy is strong, vibrant, and inclusive,” Biden said.

Biden’s Selma visit comes at a critical moment in the fight for voting rights. In the wake of the 2020 election, many Republican-led states have introduced new voting restrictions, claiming without evidence that widespread voter fraud occurred.

Civil rights groups are challenging these laws in court, but the outcome is uncertain. The Supreme Court, which now has a conservative majority, has shown a willingness to uphold restrictions that make it harder to vote.

The stakes are high, and the outcome of this battle will have a profound impact on American democracy. As Biden noted in his speech in Selma, “There are those who are seeking to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections… No other election has ever been held under such scrutiny and high standards.”

Biden’s executive order is a step in the right direction, but it’s only a small part of what needs to be done to protect voting rights. Congress must act to pass federal voting rights legislation that would restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act and expand access to the ballot box.

The For the People Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month, would do just that. The bill includes provisions to automatically register eligible voters, restore voting rights to people with past felony convictions, and provide resources to protect against foreign interference in elections.

But the For the People Act faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where it will need the support of at least 10 Republican senators to overcome a filibuster. Many Republicans have already signaled their opposition to the bill, claiming without evidence that it would lead to voter fraud.

The struggle for voting rights is far from over, and Biden’s visit to Selma serves as a reminder of the long and difficult fight that we all face to protect our democracy. As Americans, we must come together to demand that our elected officials take action to ensure that every person’s right to vote is protected and respected.