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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

Building a more perfect union

Mar 7, 2019
Catching up with Annie

Dear Friend, 

An Incredible Honor

Last weekend, I had the incredible honor of joining Civil Rights Icon John Lewis and other colleagues for the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama. We visited historic spots and memorials and reflected on the progress we’ve made in the fight for civil rights, and discussed the work we must continue doing as we strive to build a more perfect union.

Four Girls

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At the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the 16th Street Baptist Church

Our first stop on Friday, March 1st was the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, where Rep. Lewis led a moving wreath laying ceremony to remember the September 15, 1963 bombing at the church, which was perpetrated by white supremacists. The bombing killed four girls and injured several others. 

Inside the church, we saw a beautiful performance of “Four Little Girls,” which imagines Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair before their lives were tragically taken at such a young age in this hateful act of violence. The performance included amazing music, which Rep. Lewis referred to as the “wings” on the “bird” of the Civil Rights movement. It was inspiring to see a diverse group of people of different races, ages, and genders working together to bring these girls to life, as it is a symbol of America’s melting pot and the responsibility my colleagues and I have in Congress. We must put our differences aside and work to make progress for the American people.

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Amazing music at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Watch here.

A Legacy We Must Understand

After leaving the church, we traveled to Montgomery to visit the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, both of which opened in April of last year. These sites contain powerful exhibits and sculptures on the history of slavery, lynching, racism and the civil rights movement. While difficult to take in at times, it is important for all Americans to know and understand the truth about our country’s past. In the words of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, “If you don’t tell it like it was, it will never be as it ought to be.”

Our country still has a lot to learn about our history of racism. While the days of slavery, lynching, Jim Crow and legalized segregation may be over, the museum and memorial are stark reminders that prejudice against African Americans still exists in many forms. We cannot be comfortable with any injustice in our country, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues to combat discrimination so everyone—regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or background—can live up to their potential and free from the threat of bodily harm.

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Visiting the Legacy Museum

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Statue of Chained People at the Memorial for Peace and Justice

Marching for the Right to Vote

It was deeply humbling to be at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Saturday, March 2nd with Rep. John Lewis. The bridge was the site of the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday” conflict, when armed police attacked and brutally beat peaceful Civil Rights demonstrators, led by Rep. Lewis himself, as they attempted to march to Montgomery to demand their right to vote. Rep. Lewis was hospitalized with a fractured skull, and many others were injured on that terrible day. These horrible images of violence were seen on television nationwide and shook Americans to their core, with President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act into law on August 6, 1965. 

Fifty-four years later, the right to vote is still under attack, with the Supreme Court gutting a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.  That’s why I’m proud to join my House Democratic colleagues in cosponsoring H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which the House will vote on later this week. This package of legislation addresses a variety of issues, including voting rights, and will make it easier—not harder—for people to engage in this cornerstone of our democracy.

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At the Edmund Pettus Bridge

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With Rep. Lewis

Reflections from Remarkable Civil Rights Leaders

Following our time at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I visited the Brown Chapel AME Church and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where we got to hear from Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, and Ruby Sales, among others. Peggy is the daughter of the late Alabama governor George Wallace, who famously declared his support for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” during the Civil Rights movement. Her views did not align with her father’s, and she has used her voice over the years to promote racial healing. Ruby Sales is a legendary civil rights activist whose life was saved when fellow activist Jonathan Daniels—born in Keene, NH—pushed her out of the way and took a gunshot meant for her. Both women are a perfect example of not letting life’s circumstances and obstacles prevent you from speaking up and making a positive difference, and it was very powerful to hear from them.

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Rep. Terri Sewell

Honoring the Lives Lost in the Struggle for Civil Rights

I joined Rep. Lewis and my colleagues at the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery on Saturday afternoon, where Rep. Lewis led a wreath laying ceremony to honor those who lost their lives in the fight for civil rights. Specifically, the memorial honors people who died during the height of the civil rights movement, between 1954 and 1968. Remembering these individuals is key while we continue working towards a more perfect union, as they are a reminder of how important this fight is. People gave their lives in the name of justice, and we can never forget that sacrifice.

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At the Civil Rights Memorial

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Wreath at the Civil Rights Memorial

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

My colleagues and I had the opportunity to watch “Eyes on the Prize” on the bus in between the different stops on the pilgrimage. This is an incredible documentary that tells the story of the civil rights era through the point of view of the everyday men and women whose remarkable actions launched a movement that fundamentally changed American life and society. Its message reverberated throughout this pilgrimage: fundamental, lasting change does not happen from the top down, it happens from the bottom up. Progress is made only when everyday, ordinary people decide that enough is enough and work to make things better. 

Make Your Voice Heard

On this note, I encourage you to make your voice heard. My biggest responsibility is to serve you, the people of New Hampshire’s second congressional district. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with any thoughts, questions or concerns you have—I love hearing from you!

Thank you for everything you do to make New Hampshire—and our country—such a wonderful place to call home.  Have a good rest of the week!

Sincerely,