Activists from across the country and lawmakers representing a number of states gathered in Washington, D.C., on Saturday morning for two rallies on the 58th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.
Much of the conversation at the “March on for Voting Rights” and “Make Good Trouble Rally” rallies focused on what speakers described as little change over the past 58 years, with members of Congress and activists giving speeches denouncing GOP-led voting laws enacted after the 2020 presidential election and advocating for D.C. statehood as well as voting rights for felons.
“The fight is literally every second of every day of every week of every year of our lives,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., said in a speech on Saturday morning at the Lincoln Memorial. “…It is no surprise that the Supreme Court took a hatchet to the Voting Rights Act when Barack Obama was president because they are scared to transfer the power from our government to the people.”
Bowman, a freshman congressman, added that states across and the country and Republican leadership “are undermining our right to vote.” He went on to call on his Democratic colleagues to eliminate the filibuster.
“Congress, like education, like every American institution, is rooted in European settler colonialism and white supremacy,” he said, adding later that “too many members of the police department seem to believe that we’re still in 1845.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser followed and called for D.C. statehood to “make 700,000 Washingtonians truly free.”
Photos and videos posted to social media showed hundreds of people marching in the streets of D.C. and gathered on the National Mall, chanting slogans including, “Black Lives Matter,” and, “Trans lives matter.”
Speakers at Saturday’s events included several relatives of MLK, including Martin Luther King III; Rev. Al Sharpton; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas; Rep. Al Green, D-Texas; Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, family the late Civil Rights leader Rep. John Lewis; George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd; Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president; and other big names.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Georgia in July targeting a number of provisions in the state’s new election law, including a ban on government entities handing out unsolicited absentee ballots; fines on civic groups, places of worship and advocacy organizations for distributing follow-up absentee ballots; and shortening absentee ballots; restricting the distribution of food and water close to a polling place; and shortening absentee ballot deadlines to 11 days before Election Day.
Democrats argue that the Georgia law and laws like it enacted this year make it more difficult for minority populations to vote. Republicans argue that the laws make elections more secure because they limit new rules that were established during the COVID-19 pandemic to limit crowds and person-to-person contact.
The Democrat-controlled House on Tuesday passed The Voting Rights Act named after late Congressman Lewis, which outlines a new, expanded formula that the Department of Justice can use to identify discriminatory voting patterns in states and local jurisdictions.
Fox News’ Liz Friden, Brooke Singman and Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.