Votercade crosses Edmund Petus Bridge in Selma, (Photo by Sue Dorfman)
Over one hundred vehicles, including the Black Lives Matter bus participated in Saturday’s Selma-to-Montgomery ‘Votercade’ in support of passage of HR1/S1 The We the People Act and HR4 the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The Alabama Votercade was one of over 100 activities across America sponsored by a national coalition of voting rights and anti-voter suppression organizations headed by the Transformative Justice Coalition. All of the day’s activities were focused on raising awareness of the need to pass national legislation to restore the pre-clearance provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, stripped from the legislation by the 2013 Shelby vs Holder, Supreme Court decision and to counteract the many voter suppression actions of state legislatures, curtailing early voting, limiting dropboxes, increasing voter ID restrictions and other punitive measures primarily focused on discouraging and limiting the votes of Black, Brown, young and poor people. A rally was held in front of Brown’s Chapel AME Church in Selma, historic site of the start of the 1965 ‘Bloody Sunday March’ before the start of the votercade. Fay Rose Toure, Selma attorney and civil rights leader spoke about the significance of meeting at the church and in the George Washington Carver Homes, a public housing community that surrounds the church, which also housed many of the civil rights workers who took part in the original marches. Toure also announced upcoming SOS events and said we must keep our elected officials accountable to serve the people. Johnny Ford, former Mayor of Tuskegee and head of the World Council of Black Mayors said, “We’ve got to keep on marching for voting and to restore voting rights. We need to do it to honor John Lewis but also for future generations.” Former State Senator Hank Sanders said, “What we are doing today is filled with symbolism but symbols do not change things only hard work and persistence will change things and help us to pass HR1 and HR4. After we pass these bills, we will have to work even harder, longer and smarter than our opposition because as we change things they react and change their tactics and approach to challenge us. We will never win this fight against white supremacy without struggling .” Commissioner Sheila Tyson of Jefferson County said that she was organizing a statewide effort to stop local registrars from purging voter lists and wanted to fight to make the right to vote permanent. Latasha Brown, Co-Founder and Director of Black Voters Matter said that she had come to Alabama to help support local efforts to fight voter suppression. She asked the crowd to close their eyes and “Envision what would America be like without racism? Then work on creating what we envision.” Brown said the steps being taken by the legislatures in Georgia, Texas, Arizona and other places to suppress the vote is a ”reflection that we are winning, we are voting more than they expected us to vote. We have to keep voting no matter what obstacles that are put in our way.” Brown said, “We must develop a clear collective vision and work to bring it about. I know women who went door-to-door during the pandemic because they were committed to liberating everyone. Some of those people actually died of COVID fighting for people to vote and we can’t forget that or allow our opponents to diminish that.” After the rally, the cars lined up and drove the route over the Edmund Pettus Bridge headed to Montgomery. The votercade ended at a street festival in Montgomery. Persons interested in joining the struggle to advance voting rights may contact the websites of the organizations reference in this article.