April 21, 2021

Black Congressman Blasts Democrats for Claims that Voter ID Laws are Racist

  • The Hill

By: Amy Jo Underwood

In Brief: 

Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) spoke before the Senate Judiciary committee this week, criticizing the claims that voter identification requirements were racist or restrictive. He blasted President Biden for claiming that Georgia’s voter identification laws were “Jim Crow,” especially since both he and Biden lived during the years when Jim Crow laws were in effect. Rep. Owens stated, “I grew up in the era of actual legalized institutional racism.”

The Background: 

Democrats are claiming that new voter identification laws in Georgia are restrictive and racist for requiring voter identification to reduce the likelihood of voter fraud. Voter identification under the new law is not restricted to a driver's license, but could be a utility bill, paycheck, government check, or any other government document showing the name and address of the voter. 

President Biden referred to the laws as “Jim Crow on steroids.” 

Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) blasted the Democrats for their claim that requiring voter identification was equivalent to the Jim Crow laws. In a Senate Judiciary hearing, he shared his family’s experience being in slavery several generations ago, and how he and his father experienced racist Jim Crow laws in the 1960s. 

Rep. Owens stated, “I grew up in the era of actual legalized institutional racism.” He added, “...As someone who’s actually experienced Jim Crow laws, I’d like to set the record straight on the myth regarding the recently passed Georgia state law and why any comparison between this law and Jim Crow is absolutely outrageous.”  He shared his personal experience with the committee, and told them how he experienced first-hand having segregated restrooms, segregated schools, poll taxes, literacy tests, and violence and intimidation. 

In response to Biden’s statement of “Jim Crow on steroids,” Rep. Owens declared, “With all due respect, Mr. President, you know better. It’s disgusting and offensive to compare the actual voter suppression and violence of that era that we grew up in with a state law that only asks that people show their ID. This is the type of fear mongering I expect in the 1960s, not today.”

Notable Quotes:

“What I find extremely offensive is a narrative from the left that black people are not smart enough, not educated enough, not desirous enough for education to do what every other culture and race does in this country, get an ID. True racism is this, it’s the projection of the Democratic Party on my proud race. It’s called the soft bigotry of low expectation.” - Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT)

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