To honor the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides from Washington D.C. throughout the South, a movement that challenged segregation in America in the 1960s, Black Voters Matter, along with several national and local partner organizations, announced the “Freedom Ride for Voting Rights” 2021. This voting rights campaign and bus tour focused on engaging Black voters to build Black voting power across the South in the wake of Jim Crow-era voter suppression bills moving through state legislatures throughout the country meant to diminish the progress of Black voters in the recent elections.
Beginning on Juneteenth the “Blackest Bus in America” kicked off the tour in New Orleans, Louisiana and ended in our Nation’s Capital, making stops in key southern states along the way to rally with national and local partner organizations, meet with voters, and discuss the issues impacting our communities to raise awareness and drive action toward creating the conditions for a fairer and more equitable voting system in America today. The culminating event in D.C. was the first major demonstration advocating for D.C. statehood to be organized by national organizations in solidarity with local activists.
Goals of the #FreedomRide2021 are:
- To raise awareness and drive action against the voter suppression movement in the U.S. and support for HR1 and HR4 voting rights bills in Congress
- To bring national support to the fight for DC statehood and the passage of HR 51
- To engage with community partners to build power around issues of importance to Black communities
- To amplify the history of the 1961 Freedom Rides as a means for inspiring current activism.
During the campaign, major milestones took place that impacted messaging and outreach, including: Juneteenth (June 19), which became an official federal holiday this year; a Senate hearing on June 22 on DC Statehood, urging a Senate committee to fulfill America’s founding principle of no taxation without representation in the nation’s capital.; the 8th anniversary of the Shelby County vs Holder U.S. Supreme Court decision which stripped away the power of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, long seen as one of the most important civil rights laws of the past century; a decision in the important U.S. Supreme Court case, Brnovich vs. DNC; and the subsequent launch of a federal investigation by the Department of Justice into the racist voter suppression laws in Georgia.