MN Voter Restriction Amendment Author Benefited from Civil Rights Movement

Video by Allison Herrera; story by Jacob Wheeler

When Reverend Jerry McAfee and other Minneapolis faith leaders spoke against the Minnesota Voter Restriction Constitutional Amendment at the State Capitol this week, the North Minneapolis pastor also expressed the irony that the amendment’s author, Republican State Representative Mary Kiffmeyer, actually benefited from this country’s initiatives to expand, and not contract, the vote.

“The carrier of this particular bill, Sister Kiffmeyer, much of what she gained and gathered and garnered in life was off the backs of a Civil Rights movement that helped propel women to a brand new place in American society,” said McAfee, who heads the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church. “To see Ms. Kiffmeyer ignore that fact and now become one of the oppressors of the people that helped gain their freedom is astonishing to me,” he told The UpTake following the news conference.

Last week in Atlanta, McAfee joined pastors from four other large African-American churches to discuss their disdain for voter suppression. And this week, he appeared with faith leaders from around the Twin Cities.

“I stand in solidarity across racial, religious and ethnic lines today to say that it is not right. This dastardly and diabolical amendment will affect over 215,000 people. (Voter fraud) wasn’t a problem before, so why is it a problem now? It is incumbent upon the faith community to speak with a clear and concise voice, and call wrong, wrong.”

McAfee pulled no punches in stating the voter restriction amendment was targeted specifically at African Americans.

“To me it’s racism and white supremacy at its worst. It’s trying to move us back 47 years, and our plight in this country hasn’t changed that much, if you look at the poverty in North Minneapolis, it’s atrocious. One of the main things that we do have is the right to vote, and now rather than make it easier you want to make it more difficult.”

“It’s tragic that we’re taking steps to move backward instead of forward. Over 47 years ago, people of sound mind and consciousness understood the dastardly deed that was done to a people as a mere result of pigmentation of their skin.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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