Caravan for Democracy Rally At State Capitols and Washington, D. C. to Highlight Restoration of Voting Rights Act

D.C. rally-1 The Greene County Democrat wrote a special report on the “Caravan for Democracy: From the State Capitols to the Nation’s Capitol.”  The Caravan’s Freedom Riders for Voting Rights stopped at rallies at state capitols in Montgomery, Atlanta, Columbia, Raleigh and Richmond en route to Washington, D.C. The report and images are used below with permission:

 

A tour bus and nine cars with 100 people left the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Monday morning March 10, 2014 for a nine hundred mile journey to the nation’s capital in Washington, D. C. The caravan set out to protest voter suppression and the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act making the Section 5’s pre-clearance provisions inoperable.  They also called for restoration of the Voting Rights Act and ultimately a Constitutional Amendment protecting the right to vote.

The ‘Freedom Ride for Voting Rights’ was initiated by the Save Ourselves (SOS) Movement for Justice and Democracy, involving 40 social change, human rights and anti-poverty organizations in Alabama and joined by many other partnering organizations across the South. The caravan left after the three day Bridge Crossing Commemoration and Jubilee in Selma to celebrate the 49th anniversary of “Blood Sunday” when marchers were attacked on the bridge.

The caravan stopped at the state capitals along the way from Selma to Washington to demonstrate the importance of state actions in voter suppression – instituting strict voter ID laws, eliminating same-day voter registration, reducing early voting and other steps to curtail or suppress voting by Black, poor, elderly  and disabled people.

The Stops In Montgomery and Atlanta

The stop in the Georgia State Capitol, where officials cut off the public address system.

The stop in the Georgia State Capitol, where officials cut off the public address system.

After a short rally at the State Capitol in Montgomery and a stop for lunch at the Tuskegee Municipal Complex, the caravan rolled into

Atlanta, Georgia. Local legislators had arranged for a press conference inside the main entrance to the Georgia Capitol and building. The rally which featured speakers from Alabama and Georgia grew so loud that the Georgia state troopers disconnected the sound system but this only encouraged the rally participants to get louder and more boisterous in protesting against voter suppression and for the extension of Medicaid to the poor, immigrant rights, public education and other common themes.

After the press conference, the group moved to a church across the street, for more discussions. The Georgia hosts also raised a collection to help cover the costs of the caravan continuing on its journey.

The Stops in Columbia and Raleigh

The rally on the South Carolina Capitol in Columbia.

The rally on the South Carolina Capitol in Columbia.

On Tuesday morning, the Freedom Ride held a rally in front of the State Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina. Several SC Black legislators greeted the crowd and expressed support for the caravan. The SC Legislature was in session considering legislation to expand Medicaid to poor people in the state.

That afternoon, the caravan rolled into Raleigh, the state capital of North Carolina and was greeted by hundreds of supporters of the NC Moral Monday Movement, led by Rev. William Barber of the state NAACP. A spirited rally was held on the steps of the NC State Capitol. A highlight of the rally was a set of songs from the “Ragging Grannies” a group of grandmothers, dressed with flowery hats, who sang about the issues facing the Moral Monday Movement.

Rev, Barber emphasized that the struggle for voting rights was “dipped and anointed in the blood of martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement

The rally in Raleigh at the North Carolina State Capitol.

The rally in Raleigh at the North Carolina State Capitol.

including Jimmie Lee Jackson, Viola Luzzio, Rev. Reeb and many others. We must realize that this movement was touched by the blood and we cannot go backwards.” Rev. Barber introduced a fourteen year-old white student who protested a newly passed law in North Carolina that cancelled early registration for 16 and 17 year olds, who could pre-register to vote in advance of their 18th birthday.

This young lady was one of many youth speakers that addressed the rallies as part of the caravan. Ms. Jerria Martin, Coordinator of the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement and students from Tuskegee spoke at every stop. Jerria expressed the idea that it was time for young people to take their rightful place along side other leaders of the movement, “ We want to climb down from your shoulders and stand beside you in these struggles.”

The Stops in Richmond and Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday morning, the group rallied in Richmond, Virginia and then traveled on to Washington, D.C. where rallies were held in front of the U. S. Supreme Court and the Capitol building. The group was joined by Congress-members, Terri Sewell from Alabama and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina.

On the steps of the U. S. Capitol, members of the Freedom Ride decried the fact that the currently proposed legislation to fix the Voting Rights Act does not include Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and a number of states previously covered by the pre-clearance provisions of Section 5. Sewell and Butterfield said they were working to amend the legislation to remedy these concerns.

Rev. Barber who changed his schedule to meet the caravan in Washington, D. C. said, “ while we want to restore the Voting Rights Act, we must work for a Constitutional Amendment to guarantee the right to vote and take these powers to restrict voting rights away from the states.

Attorney Faya Rose Toure urged all the members of the Freedom Ride to return home and work in their states to change regressive voting rights laws and to register millions of new voters prior to next year’s 50th anniversary of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March.

 

S.O.S. Medicaid Expansion Workshop at 2014 Selma Jubilee

SOS-Medicaid-Expansion-main

The Saving OurSelves (S.O.S.) Movement for Justice and Democracy Movement  is hosting a panel to inform citizens on the movement to expand Medicaid in Alabama. It is one of several workshops that are set for the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee commemorating the 49th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches in 1965.

S.O.S. is spearheading a petition drive to persuade Governor Robert Bentley to expand Medicaid. The campaign kicks off this weekend during the Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, Panelists include: Barbara Howard, Deputy Director of Program Operations for the Health Disparities Institute for Research and Education at Tuskegee Institute; and Dr. Sophia Bracy Harris, co-founder of the Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama (FOCAL) an organization that she started in 1972. The organization is devoted to combating state regulations that threaten the well being of the poor.  

Through online and door-to-door drives, S.O.S. seeks to collect 10,000 signatures from Alabama residents who support Medicaid Expansion. SOS will deliver the signatures to Governor Bentley to demonstrate grassroots support for this initiative. The petition will be delivered on May 31, 2014 during a noon rally at the Alabama State Capitol.

SOS-Medicaid-Expansion-work

Expanding Medicaid would cover 200,000 or more uninsured Alabama residents today, including 152,000 who are working, but receive no health coverage on the job.

For more information about the campaign, see our page, EXPAND MEDICAID IN ALABAMA

 

PR: Selma-to-Washington DC Caravan Leads Call to Restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act

SELMA-50thmainThe Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, commemorating the 49th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches in 1965, kicks off a yearlong voter education and registration campaign in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision that dismantled a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Saving OurSelves (S.O.S.) Movement for Justice and Democracy, a regional association of 40 organizations and activists, organized the Marching to Selma’s 50th: 50 Cities/ 50 Cars/ 50 Voters At A Time campaign that begins on Monday, March 10 with “The Caravan for Democracy: From the State Capitols to the Nation’s Capitol ” following culminating activities on Sunday, March 9, after the annual pilgrimage across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

S.O.S. organizers and activists say there is nothing to celebrate if the unequivocal right to vote, without voter suppression tactics, is not fully restored, in honor of those who were jailed, beaten, tear-gassed and killed to win voting rights for all citizens. The Marching to the 50th’s two-fold campaign includes: 1.) bringing attention to increased voter suppression that resulted from the Supreme Court’s 2013 dismantling of the Voting Rights Act; and 2.) organizing participation in a massive voter registration effort that will result in at least one million new voters nationwide by March 2015, the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches.

The Caravan for Democracy will stop for rallies at state capitols in Montgomery AL, Atlanta GA, Columbia SC. Raleigh NC and Richmond VA. Participants can join the caravan from these cities along the way, as well as those who travel from other cities and states, to converge in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 12, at the U.S. Supreme Court and then march to the U.S. Capitol.  The march will culminate in a rally that protests the Supreme Court’s adverse decision on voting rights and urges Congress to fully restore the Voting Rights Act.

When the S.O.S. caravan stops for a rally in Raleigh, NC, Rev. William Barber II is expected to speak. Rev. Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, has led thousands of people in protest on Mondays at his state’s capitol. The multiracial, multi-issue “Moral Monday Movement” has rallied against North Carolina’s draconian voter ID law and other extreme reforms of ultra-conservative policies that are undermining public education and blocking the expansion of Medicaid, among other issues. Hundreds have been arrested in acts of civil disobedience.

Rev. Barber will lead a workshop about the Moral Monday Movement during the 49th Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma.

The D.C. rally marks the beginning of Marching to the 50th’s yearlong voter registration drives around the country. Organizations and individuals committed to social justice in every city and state are asked to participate by registering at least 50 voters each in order to reach the one-million-new-voters goal by March 2015.

For more details about the campaign, visit www.sosmovement.net/marching-to-the-50th/ or text “selmajubilee” to 72727. For media interviews, contact Vickii Howell at 205.566.3131 or email vickii.howell@gmail.com.

For more information about the Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma and related events at www.bcjubilee.org/,  or contact Connie Tucker, admin@bridgecrossingjubilee.org.