Return to Selma: Voting rights march set for Aug. 1

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NAACP, other groups to participate in ‘America’s Journey for Justice March’

BY ZENITHA PRINCE
TRICE EDNEY NEWS WIRE

With the Lincoln Memorial towering behind him, NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks, joined by leaders of a broad coalition of partners, announced “America’s Journey for Justice,” a historic march across the country to focus national attention on voting rights and other pressing human and civil rights issues.

Thousands wait downtown to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 8  in Selma, Ala. (BRIAN VAN DER BRUG/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS)
Thousands wait downtown to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 8 in Selma, Ala.
(BRIAN VAN DER BRUG/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS)

Under the theme “Our Lives, Our Votes, Our Jobs, Our Schools Matter,” representatives of the Democracy Initiative, Communications Workers of America, Common Cause, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, 1199 SEIU, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Sierra Club, National Bar Association, Black Women’s Roundtable and National Congress of Black Women and other supporters will march while participating in nationwide demonstrations, teach-ins and in a #JusticeSummer social media campaign.

The 860-mile journey will begin in Selma, Ala., on Aug. 1. Selma is the city where 50 years ago another historic march changed the civil rights landscape forever, but also in a state which, more recently, brought the Shelby v. Holder case to the Supreme Court resulting in the striking down of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. It will end 40 days later in early September in Washington, D.C.

‘A third reconstruction’
“We gather in the shadow of Lincoln, we find ourselves at a perilous point in history — what some call, a third reconstruction,” Brooks said. “We are facing opposition by adversaries of change, those determined to turn back the clock on progress and stop the momentum of a changing tide of American demographics, those who chose to stand in the way of achieving a fairer, more just America.”

Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human, echoed Brooks’ concerns.

“2015 is a very troubling year for our democracy and our nation’s promise of dignity and equality for all. On nearly every indicator of progress, people of color are falling further behind: Our schools are more segregated, our levels of unemployment continue to be unacceptably high, we face continued discrimination in voting, and our incarceration rates have increased exponentially,” he said.

“In the midst of political grandstanding and gridlock on a host of important issues, we cannot rest on historic accomplishments; we must keep on keeping on.”

‘Sick and tired’
“Our members are definitely in!” said E. Faye Williams, Esq., president and CEO National Congress of Black Women. “We are sick and tired of being left out of the prosperity others enjoy in this country.

This journey, with its broad coalition of allies, has great potential for awakening those who’ve slept through the efforts of so many to bring about justice and equality for all.

“Many of our people haven’t even noticed the losses we have suffered and how many of the hard fought rights we once had that are no longer ours. We’re not just fighting to gain new rights; we are fighting to hold onto the ones we do have, and to regain the ones we once had.”

Environmental justice
“America’s Journey” will focus on and seek solutions to an array of issues, including criminal justice reform, strengthening of voting rights protections, protecting the integrity of the electoral process from special interest hijackers, ensuring equitable access to quality education and stopping the flow of children of color in the school to prison pipeline. And, the range of the initiative’s interests is reflected in the coalition partners, which included, for example, the Sierra Club.

“Justice is essential when we’re up against a climate crisis that is bigger than us all and affects us all, despite our race, ethnicity, or other background,” said Aaron Mair, Sierra Club president. “In fact, the climate crisis makes no such distinctions. The Sierra Club is proud to join the NAACP this summer not only to call for environmental justice, but also for the social justice that unites us.”

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