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WHEREAS, fifty years ago, the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution took effect, lowering the universal voting age in the United States from 21 years old to 18 years old; and
WHEREAS, millions of young Americans were extended the right to vote, empowering more young people than ever before; and
WHEREAS, the movement to lower America’s voting age was led by young people, especially young Black civil rights activists like Philomena Queen, Carolyn Quilloin Coleman, and James Brown, Jr. of the NAACP; and
WHEREAS, the testimonies of these activists in the Spring of 1970 led to the United States Senate amending the extension of the Voting Rights Act, giving the right to vote to those between 18 and 21 years of age; and
WHEREAS, once proposed in Congress in 1971, the 26th Amendment was ratified in the shortest time span of any Constitutional Amendment in American history; and
WHEREAS, on July 5, 1971, President Richard Nixon signed the amendment into law, allowing millions of new young people to vote in the 1972 election; and
WHEREAS, as we mark the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the 26th Amendment, we reflect on the importance of educating young people and providing opportunities for them to participate in political processes in order to build a more just and inclusive democracy; and
WHEREAS, even today, systemic barriers continue to make full democratic participation unduly difficult for young voters, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, as well as other historically marginalized groups; and
WHEREAS, today, we affirm our commitment to invest in civic learning and to ensure Virginia’s civic learning opportunities center justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; and
WHEREAS, today, we remember the efforts of those who fought for their seat at the table, and we encourage future generations to participate fully in the democratic process; and
WHEREAS, on the 26th Amendment Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we call upon all Virginians to participate in ceremonies and activities to honor young Americans and those who have fought for human rights, equality, freedom, and justice in our country;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize July 8, 2021, as 26TH AMENDMENT DAY in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.