The wide-reaching celebrity group said the For the People Act is "the most critical civil rights legislation since the Civil Rights Movement"

By Sean Neumann
March 24, 2021 11:31 AM
Advertisement
Tom Hanks; Michelle Obama; Kerry Washington
Tom Hanks, Michelle Obama, Kerry Washington
| Credit: Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images; NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; Rachel Luna/Getty Images

Michelle Obama and a wide-reaching cast of celebrities signed an open letter on Tuesday, asking Americans to call their senators and urge them to pass a sweeping voting rights bill in Congress.

Obama, 56, recruited 64 celebrities spanning industries including movies, sports, television, cooking, music and more to push for Congress to pass the For the People Act to expand voting access nationwide.

Among those joining the former first lady and her When We All Vote organization were actors like Tom Hanks and Kerry Washington, athletes like Steph Curry and Megan Rapinoe, as well as musicians like Alicia Keys, Arianna Grande and Nick Jonas.

Dozens of others—from Billie Eilish and Faith Hill to Lin-Manuel Miranda and Selena Gomez—also signed the letter.

Their letter says "the most important thing we can do to protect" the future of the country is passing the For the People Act in Congress.

"This landmark bill is the most critical civil rights legislation since the Civil Rights Movement," the letter reads.

polling place
A polling place in California
| Credit: Getty

The push for Congress to pass the For the People Act comes as many Republican-led state legislatures around the country have moved towards passing stricter voting laws in recent months, making it more difficult for people to vote.

There are currently 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access in 43 states, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.

"After more Americans than ever voted in the last presidential election, some state leaders believe that silencing them is the only way to maintain their grip on power," the letter reads. "They're hoping to choose their voters, rather than the other way around."

The group's letter says "generations of Americans have rightly organized, marched, and died to defend that ideal and expand voting and civil rights to women and minorities" and that "today, the moment calls for us to take up that patriotic call to protect and expand those rights once again."

Many celebs who signed the letter also shared the message on social media.

"Now is our chance to protect and strengthen our democracy and put power back where it belongs—with the people," actress Eva Longoria tweeted.

"It's time to put power back where it belongs... with the people," said NBA star Carmelo Anthony.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lopez, Lynn Whitfield, Becky G, Tracee Ellis Ross, and more signed the open letter and shared their support online.

The For the People Act would enact federal law to override state governments in regards to such voting laws, stopping state governments from banning mail-in voting and requiring states to use independent groups to draw out congressional districts—taking aim at long-criticized gerrymandering efforts.

The House of Representatives recently passed the bill, but it is likely to stall in the Senate, where the body is split 50-50 between Democratic and Republican lawmakers. 

Democrats and independent senators supporting the legislation would need at least 10 Republicans to join their vote.

"This bill is not about choosing one party or one issue over another," the letter says. "It is about common sense reforms and best practices that make our democracy more open, more fair, and more inclusive."