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Congressman Marc Veasey (1971-present)

In honor of Black History Month, all month long we will be sharing the legacies and stories of the heroes, sheroes, and events in the fight for Black suffrage on social media under the hashtag #VRABlackHistory. Follow us on Twitter (@VRAmatters) to share your own facts.

Today we honor Congressman Marc Veasey, who represents the 33rd District of Texas, and who has taken on the cause of voting rights head-on. Congressman Veasey took Texas Governor Greg Abbott to court because of a  2011 state voter ID law that was ultimately ruled in 2016 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit as violative of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 due to its discriminatory effect on minority voters. Veasey v. Abbott, ___ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. 2016). Congressman Veasey also founded the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus in 2016, and is a very out-spoken advocate of voting rights every day of the year. The district Congressman Marc Veasey represents includes parts of Dallas County and Tarrant County, which allowed Congressman Marc Veasey to become "the first African American congressman elected in Tarrant County" when he assumed office on January 3, 2013.

Voting Rights Biography

Marc Allison Veasey was born on January 3, 1971 in Fort Worth, Texas. "His parents, Joseph and Connie Veasey, divorced when he was ten, prompting Marc, his brother Ryan, and his mother to move in with his maternal grandmother. Prior to this move, the family had been relocating frequently from rental house to rental house in Fort Worth. Upon graduating from high school, Veasey attended Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth where he earned a B.S. in Mass Communications in 1995.  

After graduating from Texas Wesleyan University, Veasey wrote scripts for advertising agencies and worked part-time as a substitute teacher. His first foray into politics began after he volunteered in the summer of 1999 to work for U.S. Representative Michael Frost, who hired Veasey as a field representative. Veasey continued to work for the congressman for five years." "In both Southeast Fort Worth and Dallas, Congressman Veasey worked on important issues dealing with transportation, economic development and higher education that benefitted the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area."

In 2004, Veasey began serving in the Texas House of Representatives representing the 95th Legislative District, where he was re-elected consecutively and served 4 terms. Between 2009 and 2012, Veasey served on the following committees in the Texas House:

(Source: Ballotpedia)

"As a member of the Texas State House, Rep. Veasey served in a number of leadership positions including Democratic Whip and Chair of the Democratic Caucus.  At home, he earned a reputation for his strong voice in the state legislature, fighting for good jobs, good schools, affordable healthcare, voting rights and justice for all Texans." While in the state house, Veasey also authored "HB 62 that honored Tim Cole, an African American student who had been wrongly convicted of rape in 1985." 

Texan District 95 now resides in part of the newly drawn U.S. 33rd Congressional District. "The 33rd Congressional District in Texas is a heavily Democratic and highly diverse area, so after Veasey fended off ten other challengers in a tight Democratic Party primary for the seat, he faced no Republican opposition in the general election. Veasey was the first African American congressman elected in Tarrant County." 

"With over 15 major military installations in Texas, defense, scientific research and development are key industries in the 33rd District. Rep. Veasey serves on the House Armed Services Committee and on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, which oversees the weapons systems tied to his district. He also sits on the Science, Space and Technology Committee where he serves on Subcommittees on both Science and Energy. He is actively engaged in various congressional member organizations including" the following:

  • Congressional Voting Rights Caucus

  • Congressional Black Caucus
  • Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus

  • Congressional TRIO Caucus

  • Congressional Small Business Caucus

  • Congressional Taskforce on Childhood Obesity

  • Congressional Army Aviation Caucus

  • Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus

  • U.S. Mexico Friendship Caucus

  • Congressional Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity

  • Congressional Career & Technical Education Caucus
  • Congressional Fire Services Caucus

  • Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus

  • Congressional Taiwan Caucus
  • Congressional United Service Organization (USO)

  • Congressional Urban Caucus

  • Democratic Israel Working Group

  • Next Gen 911

  • Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus

  • Congressional Military Family Caucus

  • Congressional Arts Caucus

  • Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth

  • Congressional Maritime Caucus

  • Texas Maritime Caucus

  • German American Caucus
The first one listed is the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, which is also co-chaired by Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama's 7th Congressional District; Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia's 3rd Congressional District; Congressman John Lewis of Georgia's 5th Congressional District; and, Congressman John Conyers of Michigan's 13th Congressional District. The Congressional Voting Rights Caucus was the first of its kind and was launched on May 24, 2016 to "address the immediate need to overcome the barriers our communities face when exercising their right to vote." 

Since its inception, the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus has over 80 members and has held several events, such as press briefings and congressional hearings. "The goal of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus is to educate the public on the current voter suppression tactics in place in their home states, districts, and counties, inform constituencies on their rights as voters, and to create and advance legislation that blocks current and future suppressive and discriminatory tactics that deny American citizens the sacred right to vote."
Congressman Marc Veasey doesn't just talk the talk; he also walks the walk. He has lead several suits against the state of Texas for their discriminatory voter ID laws, and has introduced several pieces of legislation to make it easier for the American populace to vote.

On March 19, 2015, Congressman Veasey introduced HR.12, the Voter Empowerment Act of 2015, which would  "[amend] the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) to require each state to make available official public websites for online voter registration." This bill would also, among other things,  "[authorize] automated voter registration of certain individuals and [would establish] other initiatives to promote voter registration, such as same day registration and voter registration of individuals under 18 years of age."  
Other bills introduced by Congressman Marc Veasey include the September 2016  "resolution  Expressing the Support for the Passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 and the All Ballots Count Act of 2016, to preserve the right to vote and to dismantle barriers that prevent some Americans from participating in our nation’s democracy...Veasey’s bill, H.R. 6194, the All Ballots Count Act of 2016, would prohibit the enforcement of any photo identification requirement put in place before the Supreme Court charged Congress with fixing the Voting Rights Act...In 2015, Congresswoman Sewell introduced H.R. 2867, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 to restore preclearance for 14 states that have a history of discrimination over the last 25 years. Since its introduction, House Republicans have failed to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Veasey’s resolution, H. Con. Res. 164, Expressing the Support for the Passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, calls on House Republicans to stop delaying a fix to the Voting Rights Act." (emphasis in original)

"In addition, [in 2016] Veasey...introduced the Poll Tax Prohibition [Act] and...introduced a resolution designating the month of September as “National Voting Rights Month” to highlight the importance of participating in our nation’s democracy." "Notably, the resolution [to designate September as National Voting Rights Month] encourages our nation’s public schools and universities to develop an academic curriculum on the importance of voting and encourages every American to exercise their sacred and fundamental right to vote." (emphasis added)

As long as Shelby County v. Holder is the law of the land and the responsibility of restoring the  Voting Rights Act of 1965 to its full potential lies with Congress, rest assured congresspeople like Congressman Marc Veasey are working tirelessly to ensure that Congress does what it's been charged with:

"'Until the Voting Rights Act is fully restored, we must take measures to protect the millions of Americans negatively affected by new discriminatory voter ID laws,' said Congressman Veasey. 'In 2016, we should be making it easier for citizens to vote, not harder. I will continue the fight to ensure all Americans have unfettered access to the ballot box and a voice in deciding the future of our nation.'" (emphasis added)

Considering Congressman Marc Veasey won re-election in 2016 and with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 still not fully restored, we can all sleep a little better at night knowing that that same sentiment still applies in 2017. American democracy should always be easily accessible and Congressman Marc Veasey has taken the lead on ensuring Congress follows-up to the Supreme Court's  Shelby County v. Holder decision.
Fun Facts:
  • "Veasey is a community activist and has worked as a health care consultant, Legislative Aide to Democratic Congressman Martin Frost, Realtor, sports writer for Source Media's IT Network and for the Star-Telegram. Veasey is a member of the Fort Worth Ambassadors, Tarrant County Black Genealogical Society Advisory Committee and Volunteer Center of Tarrant County."

  • In 2014, "Veasey received the endorsement of President Barack Obama. Obama said in a statement, 'I’m proud to endorse Congressman Marc Veasey in his re-election bid. Marc is a champion for working and middle-class families in the Texas 33rd Congressional District and has quickly established himself as a leader in the fight to fix our broken immigration system.'"

  • In November of 2016, during its "Igniting Transformation for America" fundraiser and 2nd Annual John Conyers, Jr. Awards Reception, the Transformative Justice Coalition honored Congressman Marc Veasey with the "Champion of Transformative Justice Award".

Recommended Reading:  
Click on the video screenshot below to   watch Congressman Marc Veasey (TX-33) deliver a 5-minute floor speech in February of 2013 on the importance of upholding Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
This article is written by: Caitlyn Cobb. All sources are linked throughout the article in green. 

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