Published on Huffington Post 

Today marks the 51st anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Alabama, which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act months later, and ultimately freed the vote for millions of voters of color.

New Jersey has a unique role in this story, as Atlantic City served as the site of the 1964 Democratic National Convention at which Fannie Lou Hamer famously delivered her powerful speech in support of Black voting rights on behalf of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

But more than 50 years later, despite the promise of increased political participation by people of color created by the Voting Rights Act, which twice led to the election of a Black president, its full potential has not been realized by one of the last excluded segments of our society: Americans with criminal convictions.