Yesterday, on the 2nd anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder decision which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, more than 500 hundred environmental, labor, and civil rights activists joined member organizations of the Democracy Initiative and the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, and journeyed to Elmwood Park in Roanoke, VA to rally for voting rights and an equal voice for all in our democracy.
Demonstrating our collective passion for justice and our democracy, our community rallied in solidarity across organizations and communities. The Democracy Initiative member organizations turned out hundreds of people en masse, with activists from the environmental, labor, civil rights, women’s rights, immigration, and faith communities standing together in a brilliant display of compassion and urgency to show Roanoke and America what democracy looks like.
The energy all afternoon was tremendous, and the hundreds of passionate voting rights supporters celebrated alongside a packed program of influential speakers including Democracy Initiative Chair Larry Cohen, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights President Wade Henderson, Sierra Club National President Aaron Mair, NAACP President & CEO Cornell William Brooks, Common Cause President Miles Rapoport, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, SEIU Executive Vice President Rocio Sáenz, Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Director of Public Policy Tanya Clay House, NAACP VA State Conference Chair Carmen Taylor, Norfolk Federation of Teachers President Tom Calhoun, NAACP National Voter Fund Executive Director Greg Moore, National Action Network Executive Director Janaye Ingram, Javonte McNear of the NAACP VA Youth and College Division, NAACP NC State Conference President Rev. William Barber, People for the American Way Director of African American Religious Affairs Rev. Leslie Malachi, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC Director of Census and Voting Programs Terry Ao Minnis, and many more.
Joining the chorus, 23 Democracy Initiative member organizations issued statements in support of the rally and called for a Congressional hearing on the Voting Rights Act. We ruled the day in social media, with#RestoretheVRA trending on Twitter. Activists, organizations, and attendees tweeted up a storm – check out the Storify for a wonderful synopsis of the day’s activities.
The rally was covered extensively in local and national news, with a great segment appearing on MSNBC’s Ed Show with Larry Cohen elevating the call for voting rights to a nationwide audience. Additional coverage was featured on local affiliates for NPR, Fox, ABC, and NBC.
A special thanks goes out to all the organizations who turned out their members and activists for the long bus ride to Roanoke: AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Alliance for Justice, Amalgamated Transit Union, America Votes, American Postal Workers Union, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Campaign for America’s Future, Common Cause, CWA, Demos, Every Voice, Greenpeace, Jobs With Justice, Lawyers’ Committee, League of Conservation Voters, National Action Network, NAACP, National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, National LGBTQ Task Force, National People’s Action, People for the American Way, Project Vote, Public Citizen, ReThink Media, SEIU, Sierra Club, and United States Student Association.
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