By Lauren Victoria Burke,
On the 58th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, marchers focused on voting rights. Voting rights have reemerged as a somewhat unexpected political battlefield as Republicans across the country pass new laws placing barriers in front of the ballot box.
Last week, the U.S. House passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act which would restore pre-clearance, a 1965 Voting Rights Act provision requiring states with a history of restricting voting rights to receive pre-approval for changes in election laws.
“January 6 you saw an insurrection against people’s right to vote,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, a primary organizer of the March on Washington 2021. Today, Sharpton said, represents “Dr. King’s resurrection of the right to vote.”
In Washington, D.C. and several other cities, marchers focused on voting rights along with the minimum wage, evictions and justice reform issues. Marchers at the Washington, D.C. event featured members of Congress and voting rights activists.
“Fifty eight years ago today, a preacher from Georgia stood on these steps and declared, in the face of racism and economic justice, a nightmare — a nightmare that was lengthened by congressional and state filibustering,” said Rev. Dr. William Barber, President of Repairers of the Breach.
Marchers in Washington, D.C. wore “good trouble” t-shirts and face masks and held signs on voting rights and ending the filibuster.
Voting rights activists have been putting pressure on Congress to end the filibuster and make it harder for state legislators to change voting laws that place barriers in front of the ballot box.
“Fifty-eight years after the #MarchOnWashington, Americans are marching again today for our democracy. With state laws disenfranchising voters and making it harder to vote, we need the Senate to pass the For the People Act and the House-passed John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act!” wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on social media.
The Senate is expected to return to session in September and deal with a close vote that will include the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke.