Fighting for voting rights is at the very top of the list of critical battles we must win between now and the 2022 midterms. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, through the end of March 361 bills with “restrictive provisions” have been introduced in 47 states — and some have already been enacted into law. If we don’t act now to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, we may never get the chance again.
Transformative Justice Coalition, along with Public Citizen, Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD), The Leadership Conference, and more than 100 other coalition partners have stepped up with the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Day on Saturday, May 8. Approximately 150 events will be held at cities across the U.S. All have the same goal: “To raise awareness and create energy around protecting the right to vote by supporting the passage of federal legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
At 11 a.m. on May 8 local time wherever you are in the U.S., the action will kick off with elected officials and other speakers from your neighborhood, your county and your region. They will talk about the importance of voting and the dangers we face if we let the opportunity to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act slip through our fingers. Unless we pass these acts well before the midterms — and while we’re at it, pass statehood for D.C. and address the filibuster — and the GOP-led effort to ram these voter suppression bills through in state after state after state succeeds, we fail those who are left behind again and again by those in power. These are the marginalized. The poor. The BIPOC community. The young.
At noon, the votercade will take our message to those same people — the marginalized, the poor, the BIPOC community, and the young. In Oakland, California, we’ll be leaving from the Oakland Arena and winding through the neighborhoods to raise awareness. At 1 p.m., we’ll gather back for a properly socially distanced celebration tailgate, with performers and information booths and the sharing of tangible ways to take action.
The actions across the country aren’t just typical rallies and marches. In 150 different locations, people are organizing a rally and a “votercade” and a celebration village (or celebration tailgate, in our case). We need to make a lot of noise — and good trouble — to spread the message. We need to be loud enough with our voices and with our actions to counter the deep pockets of corporations and heavily funded PACs.
As the national organizers note, “Today voting rights are under attack nationally by state legislators introducing and passing laws to put up barriers to our participation in elections. Americans are coming together to fight back. Meanwhile, billionaires and big business are spending unlimited amounts of money to buy our elections.”
Locals also are talking about the Bay Area Votercade. Alfreda Wright lives in Oakland and plans on attending. “For me, Representative John Lewis said it best. ‘The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society.’ We can never take the right to vote for granted. It can be lost, and I lost an ancestor in the struggle for voting rights.”
Queen Jackson is another Oakland resident and an event organizer. “I can’t believe that once again African-Americans are having to fight for our rights to vote,” she said. “No other race in this country has to continually fight for their right to be treated as equal and whole human beings. Why in 2021 are we having to do this? It’s egregious and wrong that any race of people have to fight to be treated as whole and equal human beings.”
Jackson continued, “It doesn’t matter that there are people in this country who pass down hate and white supremacy from generation to generation. We will continually hold our heads up and use the intellect we’ve been blessed with to combat policies that are written to silence our voices. The For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act address these issues such as voter suppression legislation currently being passed in states across the country. We must keep fighting every attempt to silence our voices and treat us like we don’t matter. We shall not be moved.”
Another organizer, South Bay resident Glenn Ricafrente said, “Like John Lewis dancing to Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ (look it up on YouTube), we’re going to have loads of fun at the John Lewis Voting Rights Rally/Votercade/Celebration on May 8th! And we’ll be working hard to make a difference, too!”
WHAT: National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Day and Motorcade
WHERE: 150 different locations around the U.S. (Find the closest event to you and more information here.)
WHEN: Saturday, May 8, 11 a.m. local time
What Can You Do?
- Call the Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) and speak to both of your U.S. senators and your House representative. Tell them you demand passage of the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and D.C. statehood. Tell them they must “address one of the greatest obstacles to the passage of civil and voting rights — and one of the last vestiges of slavery — the filibuster!”
- Save the Capitol switchboard number in your phone. Be ready the next time you need to tell your members of Congress what you want them to do.
- Attend one of the many events on May 8 at 11 a.m. Sign up here.
- Spread the word so more of us make good trouble!
Let’s not let this moment pass us all by.
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