This month marks the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. and the subsequent passage of the Voting Rights Act. While we've come a long way in five decades, John Oliver's latest segment on Last Week Tonight shows just how far we still have to go.
This historic anniversary inspired Oliver to take a deep dive into the current state of voting rights on Sunday night's installment of Last Week Tonight. However, he didn't look at voting laws in the 50 states but in the other parts of America that most citizens probably rarely think about: the U.S. Territories.
In the words of Oliver, "voting rights in this country, much like John Travolta's hair, are very much just a work in progress." More than 4 million people, 98.4 percent of which are racial or ethnic minorities, live in the U.S. Territories, which include Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Though the people in these territories live under American jurisdiction, they aren't given a say in choosing who will lead the government they have to abide, i.e. the U.S. president.
Oliver focuses on three U.S. Territories during the segment — Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa — and gives some compelling examples that underscore why we probably choose to ignore the "unsettling fact" of the lack of voting rights in these places, just like we try not to think about the fact that the dog from Full House is probably dead now, as he says. These include the fact that more American citizens live in Puerto Rico than in 21 U.S. states, Guam has a higher registered voter turnout than the U.S. and one instance in June 2013 where a U.S. member of Congress mispronounced American Samoa as "American Samolia," even though there's a Girl Scout cookie named after the island.
Oh yes. It's pretty sad. But if we can put on more than 30 WrestleManias, surely one day all Americans will have equal voting rights, right?
Check out the full Last Week Tonight segment below.