For Immediate Release
Voting Rights Is Under Attack
It is the lifeline for Immigrant Rights, Workers Rights, Women Rights, Environmental Justice, and Justice for All People
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Fifteen organizations are co-sponsoring a Freedom Riders for Voting Rights Never Forget, Never Again Pilgrimage in Mississippi on April 30 and in Alabama on May 1.
The Pilgrimage is slated to stop at locations in Mississippi and Alabama where civil rights activists who worked to get the right to vote for African Americans were killed, often by racists who never paid adequately for their crimes. According to Senator Hank Sanders, coordinator of National Coalition of Leaders to Save Section Five, “the Pilgrimage is to recommit to save the Voting Rights Act so that their deaths will not be in vain.”
Just three days after President Barack Obama’s historic re-election, the United States Supreme Court announced it would hear a constitutional challenge to the core provision of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5. The case arose in Shelby County, Alabama when an African American finally won an elected position. The County redrew the district lines to prevent him from being reelected; culminating in no Black elected officials until the Justice Department stepped in using Section 5. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on February 27 and a decision is expected in May. The Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, Inc. filed a brief to the Supreme Court in support of the Shelby County plaintiffs.
Four buses of Freedom Riders joined scores of national organizations and leaders for a rally on February 27 at the U.S. Supreme Court when the Court heard the Alabama case challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. They continue to build momentum to save Section 5.
According to Hollis Watkins, legendary civil rights activists and Chairman of the Board for the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, Inc., “We are joining with the Mississippi NAACP State Conference and other Mississippi organizations to meet the Alabama Freedom Riders Bus at the various murder sites of movement martyrs.” The bus has scheduled stops in Jackson at the Medgar Evers home, in Philadelphia where James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Henry Hezekiah Dee, and Charles Eddie Moore were killed. Some members of the Pilgrimage will travel to Liberty on April 29 where Herbert Lee and Louis Allen were killed.
In Alabama, the Pilgrimage will stop at the site where Jimmie Lee Jackson was killed in Marian, Alabama, on the evening of April 30. On May 1, they will make stops in Selma where Rev. James Reeb was killed, in Lowndes County where Jonathan Daniels and Viola Liuzzo were killed, and in Tuskegee where Sammy Young was killed. The Pilgrimage will culminate at the Alabama State Capitol where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “How Long, Not Long” speech at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. The Voting Rights Act was passed six months after his speech.
The co-sponsoring organizations include:
Alabama New South Coalition
Alabama Democratic Conference
Ancient Africa, Enslavement and Civil War Museum
Bridge Crossing Jubilee, Inc.
Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights
National Action Network
National Coalition of Leaders to Save Section Five (NCLSS)
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Policy Alliance
National Voting Rights Museum and Institute
Save Ourselves Summit
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, Inc.
World Conference of Mayors
Women of Will