The occasion was a National Voter Registration Day rally and press conference in Atlanta, and the message was about the assault on voters rights.
When it was his turn at the microphone, Fifth District Congressman John Lewis said that some people are trying to take away people’s right to vote.
“People died for that right, people struggled for that right,” said Lewis, who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. register people to vote in the 1960s. “And there are forces in America today, not just in America south, but all across our land that are trying to make it hard and difficult for people to register to vote.”
Fourth District Congressman Hank Johnson said Americans’ constitutional right to vote is under attack across the country.
“Sweeping new state voter laws – including an end to same-day registration, cuts to early voting and voter ID laws – create barriers for millions of voters,” he said. “Nothing is more fundamental in our democracy than the right to vote. We must reject any attempts to curb citizens’ access to the ballot.”
House Resolution 542, the “For the People” Voter Protection Initiative, focuses attention on voter suppression efforts like restrictive voter ID laws, which the Congressional Black Caucus says could hinder up to five million Americans from registering to vote or casting a ballot in November.
At least 34 states have introduced laws that would require voters to show photo identification in order to vote, and at least 12 states have introduced laws that would require proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register to vote, or to vote.
This year, states which have passed voter suppression laws account for 171 electoral votes or 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
Atlanta’s “For the People” Voter Protection event was among dozens held across the country at the same time by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Also present at the event was 13th District Congressman David Scott, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference President C.T. Vivian, and officials from the Georgia League of Women Voters, Georgia Stand Up, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, Georgia NAACP; Atlanta 9 to5, and Asian American Legal Advocacy Center.
Scott said it is important for people to get out and vote because this is a critical election.
“We got civil rights on the line,” he said. “We got scholarships for our kids and Pell grant on the line, we got health care on the line. We do have something to vote for.”
After the speeches, more than 30 people locked arms and walked down Washington Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive chanting “We will vote.”
For more information, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org/projects/voting_rights.