Plaintiff in Trial Challenging NC’s Restrictive Voter ID Law to Visit White House
Rosanell Eaton, 94, Invited to Attend Women's History Month Reception
WASHINGTON – Ms. Rosanell Eaton, a 94-year-old plaintiff challenging North Carolina’s restrictive photo ID requirement, will attend a reception at the White House in honor of Women’s History Month today at 3:30 PM. Raised in the Jim Crow south, Ms. Eaton overcame a literacy test over 70 years ago when she first attempted to register to vote. Forced to recite the Preamble to the Constitution without error, she did so flawlessly. Ms. Eaton has voted in every election since – yet not without facing additional hurdles.
“Ms. Eaton embodies the spirit of democracy,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair. “She is a trailblazer for equal rights. Ms. Eaton overcame Jim Crow discrimination to register in the very first election she was eligible – and she has fulfilled her civic duty in every election since. We should all strive to meet her level dedication. Now at 94, Ms. Eaton continues to battle for her fundamental right to vote – and for free, fair and accessible elections for all. This is civic action at its greatest.”
In 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted essential protections of the Voting Rights Act, Ms. Eaton’s home state of North Carolina swiftly enacted a comprehensive set of voting restrictions – including a burdensome photo ID requirement. Ms. Eaton did not possess the required identification under the new law due to a mismatch in combinations of her married and maiden names on her driver’s license and voter registration card. To obtain the necessary identification, Ms. Eaton had to make 10 trips to state offices, drive more than 200 miles and dedicate more than 20 hours. Advancement Project, who represents Ms. Eaton in the federal challenge to North Carolina’s law, maintains that these burdens violate the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“At the age of 94, I am privileged and honored to be invited to meet with my first Black president, of whom I am so proud,” Ms. Eaton said. “I have worked long and hard to see the day when all people are encouraged to vote to get such a great president in office. I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to have travelled to Washington, D. C. to witness the inauguration of our first Black president. I am proud of President Obama for the great work he has done while in office and especially grateful for his political position on voting rights. It goes to show that for those of us who have taken a stand against injustices and for civil rights over the years, our work has not been in vain. It makes me very proud to call Barack Hussain Obama our president and I am glad to be able to meet him face-to-face.”
In August of 2015, President Obama described Ms. Eaton as an “unsung American hero” in a letter to the editor published in The New York Times Magazine. “Ms. Eaton has not given up,” President Obama wrote. “She’s still marching. She’s still fighting to make real the promise of America. She still believes that We the People have the awesome power to make our union more perfect.”
Ms. Eaton is among the thousands of North Carolinians who have engaged in the Forward Together Moral Mondays Movement – employing direct action and civil disobedience tactics to force state lawmakers to adopt a moral agenda.
For questions please contact Victoria Wenger at [email protected].
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Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.