NEW ORLEANS, LA — Today, Black Voters Matter (BVM), Urban League of Louisiana, Power Coalition, and nearly a dozen partner organizations hosted a press conference and pre-launch event in New Orleans to kick off BVM’s Freedom Ride for Voting Rights. The Freedom Ride, which continues in the tradition of the original Freedom Rides that began 60 years ago, is an education and outreach campaign to increase support for voting rights legislation, advocate for D.C. statehood, and build Black voting power. Beginning tomorrow, on Juneteenth (June 19), BVM will board its signature “Blackest Bus in America” for a voter outreach tour from Jackson, Mississippi to Washington D.C., making stops in key southern states to rally with partner organizations and concerned citizens and discuss the issues impacting their communities.
The location of today’s press conference — the Treme Center in New Orleans — bears historical significance. In May 1961, the buses carrying the original “Freedom Riders” were meant to stop in New Orleans, but the riders encountered so much violence and racism along the way that they were forced to end the ride in Birmingham, Alabama. Members of the original Freedom Ride joined today’s press conference and pre-launch event to reflect on the 60-year legacy of the historic protest and outline the work that lies ahead.
“We cannot think of a more powerful tribute to the legacy of the original Freedom Rides than beginning our campaign where theirs should have ended: in New Orleans,” said Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown, co-founders of Black Voters Matter. “Right now, with southern, Republican-led states actively working to undermine Black voting rights and disenfranchise Black communities, the goals of the original Freedom Rides have never felt more relevant. That’s why, starting tomorrow, we’re rolling into nine southern communities with local and national partners to educate Black voters, empower Black communities, and honor the rich legacy of the original Freedom Riders. We’re driving our power-building movement from the Louisiana bayou to the steps of the Supreme Court to stand up to voter suppression and demand local, state, and federal action to protect our voting rights. With this Freedom Ride, we are putting the entire nation on notice: until lawmakers make Black voting rights a priority, it will not be business as usual.”
Tomorrow, BVM’s Freedom Ride for Voting Rights will kick off with a Juneteenth celebration in Jackson, followed by stops in each of the following cities:
Saturday, June 19 | Jackson, MS & Birmingham, AL
- 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM: Smith Park (302 Amite Street, Jackson, MS)
- 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (510 16th Street North, Birmingham, AL)
Sunday, June 20 (Father’s Day) | Nashville, TN
- 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM: First Baptist Church Capitol Hill (625 Rosa Parks Boulevard, Nashville, TN)
Monday, June 21 | Atlanta, GA
- 2:30 PM – 5:00 PM: Ebenezer Baptist Church (1010 Jackson Street NE, Atlanta, GA)
Tuesday, June 22 | Columbia, SC
- 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM: South Carolina State House (1100 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC)
Wednesday, June 23 | Raleigh, NC
- 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Moore Square (226 East Martin Street, Raleigh, NC)
Thursday, June 24 | Charleston, WV
- 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM: West Virginia State Capitol (1900 Kanawha Boulevard, Charleston, WV)
Friday, June 25 | Richmond, VA
- 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Monroe Park (620 W Main Street, Richmond, VA)
Saturday, June 26 | Washington, D.C.
- 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM: National Mall, Washington D.C.
Each stop on the Freedom Ride will stream live via Black Voters Matter’s Youtube channel. For more information or to RSVP for one of the stops along the route, please visit: blackvotersmatterfund.org.
BVM’s Freedom Ride for Voting Rights comes as more than 40 states consider legislation to restrict voting rights, which would have a disproportionate impact on Black communities. In addition to voter outreach and engagement, the bus tour will raise awareness around this harmful legislation and empower communities to combat restrictions to early voting, absentee ballots, and other important reforms. Similar to the original Freedom Rides, BVM is also encouraging organizations, activists and supporters to join the caravan for part or all of the route, creating space for those who would like to participate — whether for just one day or multiple days.
BVM will be joined by nearly 150 local and national partners organizations, including: Advancement Project – National Office; Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Black Church PAC; Black Women’s Roundtable; Congressional Progressive Caucus Center; DC Vote; Declaration for American Democracy; Ebenezer Baptist Church; End Citizens United; Make It Plain; Movement for Black Lives – Electoral Justice Project; NAACP Legal Defense Fund; National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; People for the American Way; Rainbow PUSH Coalition; SCLC – Southern California; SPLC Action Fund; Stand Up America; The Daniel Initiative SET; The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; The Working Families Party; Transformative Justice Coalition; Until Freedom; and Women’s March.