Thousands are marching in Washington, D.C. and across the country on Saturday in a push to pass federal voting rights legislation.
Saturday marked the 58th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. This year’s rally comes as voting rights take center stage, with GOP-controlled legislatures considering or passing bills that would restrict ballot box access.
Organizers began gathering at 8 a.m. at McPherson Square and marched along Black Lives Matter Plaza toward the National Mall.
“What do we want? Voting rights! When you we want then? Now!” shouted one group of demonstrators marching with Black Lives Matter signs.
— Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubWhite House defends plans for Hunter Biden art sale Hunter Biden artwork attracts ethics scrutiny: report Stephen Hahn joining venture capital firm behind Moderna MORE (@waltshaub) August 28, 2021
According to the March On website, they believe their voting rights are under attack. In January, they say 48 states introduced bills that would lead to voter suppression. #MarchOnWashington #VotingRightsMarch pic.twitter.com/mctcABfNB9
— 7News DC (@7NewsDC) August 28, 2021
The Rev. Al Sharpton was seen earlier on Saturday marching down 15th Avenue toward Constitution Avenue. Also in the video were Texas Reps. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeActivists gear up for voting rights march to mark King anniversary Hillicon Valley: Federal cyber agency kicks off effort to defend US against cyberattacks | Senators introduce bill to sanction nations tied to ransomware attacks | Amazon pushes back corporate reopening Lawmakers roll out bipartisan bill to help track cyber crimes MORE (D) and Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenRental aid emerges as new housing fight after eviction ban Rep. Al Green, Texas state lawmaker arrested outside Capitol during voting rights protest Manchin meets with Texas lawmakers on voting rights MORE (D).
Protect the vote and Pass the John LewisJohn LewisPhotos of the Week: Afghanistan evacuees, Paralympics and the French fire Texas House passes GOP-led election overhaul bill Activists gear up for voting rights march to mark King anniversary MORE Voting Rights Act! #MarchOnForVotingRights pic.twitter.com/xHoifEc1ga
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) August 28, 2021
The three are among roughly a dozen others expected to speak Saturday afternoon.
Federal voting rights legislation has been a top Democratic priority following the election as Republicans continue to push former President TrumpDonald TrumpWalensky says ‘now is the time’ to tackle gun violence: report Banks fights Jan. 6 committee effort to seek lawmaker records Biden to raise pay for federal employees effective Jan. 1. MORE’s claims that the election was stolen.
According to March On, the organizer of the rally, 48 states have introduced 389 bills since January that it says amount to “outright voter suppression.”
Such legislation became highly contentious in Texas when a group of 50 state House Democrats fled to Washington, D.C., to deny the chamber a quorum and prevent the passage of a controversial voting reform bill.
The Texas House on Friday passed the legislation, which limits early voting hours and implements new voter ID requirements for mail-in voting. It also creates harsher penalties for voter fraud.
The House has passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would restore the provision of the Voting Rights Act that outlaws jurisdictions from implementing voting procedures that discriminate on the basis or race, color or membership in a language minority group.
But any voting rights measure faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Democrats do not have the votes to break through a legislative filibuster.
Rallies were also held in Atlanta, Houston, Miami and Phoenix — cities in states where controversial voting legislation has passed.
In Atlanta, civil rights activist Ben Jealous led the crowd in a chant encouraging President BidenJoe BidenFather of slain Marine: ‘Biden turned his back on him’ US conducts military strike against ISIS-K planner Pentagon official holds first talks with Chinese military under Biden: report MORE call for an end to the senate filibuster.
“Hey, hey! Hey, Joe! The filibuster has got to go!” Jealous chanted.
This morning I spoke at the #MarchOnforVotingRights in Atlanta about abolishing the filibuster, passing voting rights legislation, and saving our democracy. We cannot afford not to act and we need @JoeBiden to get on board. Let’s get this done. pic.twitter.com/TevDXGN2Ym
— Ben Jealous (@BenJealous) August 28, 2021
The march was held outside of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was pastor. His daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, is expected to speak.
Updated: 11:51 a.m.