First lady Michelle Obama waves as she is introduced onstage to address the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 42nd Annual Phoenix Awards dinner Saturday in Washington. | Cliff Owen~AP
WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama says protecting the right to vote has become the nation’s most important civil rights issue.
She told a gathering of black lawmakers and leaders that they owed it to those who fought and died for equal rights in the 1960s to make sure every voter can freely cast a ballot.
Her comments at an annual awards banquet for the Congressional Black Caucus came amid a push in more than a dozen states to pass laws requiring voters to show ID at the polls.
Critics say the laws unfairly harm minorities, poor people and college students — all groups that tend to vote Democratic.
Comparing it to the civil rights movement, Obama calls voting rights “the march or our time” and “the sit-in of our day.”