Today, on what would have been John Lewis’ 82nd birthday, Black Voters Matter (BVM) announced that it will join local and national partners in Alabama for a weeklong march and demonstration to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery March in partnership with the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee. Beginning on March 3, BVM and several national partners will lead community events and actions along the 54-mile route from Selma to Montgomery as the fight for voting rights in America continues, under the theme “Return to the Bridge: Fight for the Vote!” This will include a re-enactment of Bloody Sunday, the original protest march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a key milestone in the civil and voting rights movement of the 1960s.
In an act of collaboration and solidarity, different national organizations will share the responsibility by leading activities on a particular day throughout the week, pulling together resources and supporters for an even greater impact. In addition to BVM, other national organizers for the week include: Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Repairers of the Breach, NAN/National Action Network, NAACP, AFSCME/UDW Local 3930, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Dangerous Supreme Court decisions, a wave of state-level voter restrictions, and Senate inaction are turning back the clock on our voting rights and our ability to build power and make gains on the issues impacting our communities,” said BVM Co-founder and Executive Director Cliff Albright. “More than half a century after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we will be in Alabama to continue the work of a generation of freedom fighters. We should not still be fighting this fight – but we will if we have to because we who believe in freedom shall not rest until it comes.”
Furthermore, BVM’s roots are in Alabama,” added LaTosha Brown, BVM co-founder and a native of Selma. “The dangerous Shelby v. Holder decision, which gutted the Voting Rights Act, began with a complaint from Alabama. The state’s Republican-led legislature introduced 27 bills to restrict voting last year (eight of which passed). This month’s Merrill v. Milligan Supreme Court decision reinstates voting maps that have been widely criticized for diluting Black votes. And the rural community of Lowndes County continues to face an unprecedented wastewater crisis. We have more work to do and Alabama remains a central part of our national fight for voting rights – both then and now.”
Black Voters Matter will be coordinating activities for Day Four, Wednesday, March 9th. Alongside local residents, voters, HBCU students and supporters, the day will include a press conference, teach-ins on different historical and current issues, and a “Fight for the Vote” rally that will end with the passing of the torch to the next lead organizer.
Partner organizations joining BVM on March 9 include The Workers Circle, League of Women Voters, Declaration for American Democracy, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Transformative Justice Coalition, and the People for the American Way.
One Million for Voting Rights:
In addition, Black Voters Matter is announcing the launch of “One Million for Voting Rights,” a voter outreach and empowerment campaign to mobilize one million people to the streets and to the polls ahead of this year’s critical midterm elections. The campaign, which will include digital outreach, social media ads, and a national texting program, encourages voters and community members from across the U.S. to sign an online pledge urging them to use their collective power in the fight for voting rights. The pledge is available here.
To learn more about Selma, access resources and/or join BVM as a partner on the ground, visit https://blackvotersmatterfund.org/selma/.
“The Voting Rights Act was made possible because of conscious-minded people from all walks of life standing together in the face of adversity,” said Melanie Campbell, president & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “The path to securing those protections was not always smooth. Just as there were victories, there were also setbacks. We need to take that history into this new fight because we are only just beginning. Just as our ancestors experienced, it is always darkest before the light. And if we continue fighting for voting rights together, we will be victorious.”
“American democracy is under an alarming and unprecedented attack. The ongoing threat of anti-voter laws being introduced and passed by extremist state lawmakers to erect new barriers for Black and Brown voters means our work is as vital today as it was hundreds of years ago. Our freedom to vote has yet to be guaranteed. We must realize our ancestors’ vision for an inclusive democracy that reflects the American people and ensures Black and Brown voters have a fair say in the important issues that impact people’s lives,” said Jana Morgan, director of the Declaration for American Democracy.
“The Workers Circle is proud to be marching from Selma to Montgomery in the footsteps of courageous men and women who risked their lives to raise the conscience of our nation and demand America make good on its promise of equality and democracy for all. We march shoulder-to-shoulder with our brother and sister activists today because we will never stand idly by as any of us are targeted for disenfranchisement. As Jews we know what the slide into autocracy looks like. We are here as part of a national movement to stop our nation from backsliding on its fundamental commitment to government by, with, and for all the people,” added Ann Toback, CEO, The Workers Circle.