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Barack Obama highlights Rev. Al Sharpton’s 2014 NAN Conference

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President Obama made an appearance at Rev. Al Sharpton’s 2014 National Action Network Conference in New York City this past week, giving remarks at the Metropolitan Ballroom in the Times Square Sheraton Hotel. After being introduced by Sharpton, the president spoke about the importance of renewing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the positive effect of the implementation of his health care reform.

“We know we have to do more to restore America’s promise of opportunity for all people, particularly communities hardest hit by the recession,” President Obama stated, “particularly those who struggled long before the recession.”

The president also challenged the public to embrace the spirit of his My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

“Opportunity means answering the call to be my brother’s keeper and helping more boys and young men of color stay on track and reach their full potential,” he added. “That’s not just something I do; that’s not just something the government does; it’s something everyone can participate in.”

“We have states who, just out of political spite, are leaving good people uninsured,” he said, “as opposed to getting health insurance right now. [There’s] no good reason for it. You ask them what’s the explanation; they can’t really tell you.”

President Obama spent most of his time addressing efforts by many Republican politicians to tighten voting regulations across the country.

“[Former President] Johnson said, ‘About this, there can be and should be no argument—every American citizen must have an equal right to vote,'” Obama shared.

“The principle of ‘one person, one vote’ is the single greatest tool we have to address an unjust status quo,” he continued. “You would think there would not be an argument about this anymore. But the stark, simple truth is this: the right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights act became law, nearly five decades ago. Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.”

“Every citizen doesn’t just have the right to vote,” the president said, “they have a responsibility to vote.”