Thousands march across U.S. for Voting Rights

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‘Tens of thousands’ of Americans rallied to demand an end to voter suppression and support the passing of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act during the national ‘March for Voting Rights’ on Saturday. Spurred on by a slew of laws that risk disenfranchising black voters across the country, Marches took place in states across the country, including Atlanta, Miami and Tennessee. Central to events on the day was the March that occurred in DC. An estimated 50,000 people attended the event which marked the 58th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington, led by Martin Luther King.

'You are the dream'

King’s son, Martin Luther King III, was among the headline speakers at the event, as was King III’s wife, Andrea Waters King, and Rev. Sharpton. Evoking memories of his father’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, King III urged the crowd to remain committed to the fight for federal voting rights and reminded them of their importance to the cause.

“This is a battlefield of morals and you are armed with the truth and the truth is a flame, you cannot extinguish. People have done it before, and we’ll do it again. We will demand federal voting rights until we have them. So don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t give out. You are the dream, and this is our moment to make it true.”

LaTosha Brown, the founder of Black Voters Matter, echoed King’s message, adding that the March represented a moment to “think” about how a change would occur. “This ain’t just a moment for us to say how we’re going to protest. This is the moment for us to really think about how we’re going to transform this nation. And the transformation starts with us, where we decide that all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect!”

Battle in the Senate

Democrats believe that part of that transformation must come in the form of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The bill passed through the US House of Representatives last Tuesday, but its prospects in the US Senate appear less favourable. Currently, all 50 Democrats in the Senate and a further 10 Republicans would need to vote in favour of the bill for it to pass.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has previously described the voting rights bill as 'unnecessary'

For Grant Lewis, the youngest brother of the late John Lewis, support for the bill goes beyond partisanship. He believes that now is the time for the nation's chief decision-makers to stand on the right side of history.

“Just think, 58 years later we are still fighting for those same rights. Something about that just don’t sound right,” he told the crowd on Saturday. “It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you are on. It’s more important to be on the right side of history.”

International support was not in small measure either. Here in the UK, OBV led the rallying call for international support of the U.S. protest, with a series of images across social media aiming to draw support for the marchers. The organising group behind the campaign 'March On' have now set a target of registering 2 million new voters before the 2022 midterms.

Mayowa Ayodele

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