People took to the streets in Washington, Houston, Atlanta, and other cities to protest against voting laws in the US.
Carrying signs that read “Voting rights for all” and “Your vote matters,” almost 20,000 protesters from the White House to the Capitol, the seat of the US Congress.
The date selected for the rallies held significance as 58 years ago Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech.
His son Martin Luther King III spoke to crowds on Saturday emphasizing the need to guarantee voting rights for everyone.
“You are the dream, and this is our moment to make it true,” he said.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 18 states have adopted restrictive elections laws since January.
The restrictions range from a requirement to have a fixed address in order to register to vote to a ban on drive-through voting.
Organizers of the “March On For Washington And Voting Rights” demanded that the US Congress pass legislation to block such voting restrictions, saying that these restrictions would disproportionately impact people of color.
Grant Lewis, younger brother of late civil rights hero and Congressman John Lewis, urged Republicans to put aside partisanship and pass the law, saying that fundamental rights secured in the 1960s were at stake.
“Just think, 58 years later we are still fighting for those same rights. Something about that just don’t sound right,” he told the crowd. “It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you are on. It’s more important to be on the right side of history.”
African-American university student Rikkea Harris said, “I just feel like we just kind of went backwards.”
Her father, Rickey Harris, was marching alongside her and said that protesting was key to “trying to knock down all these voting suppression laws that they’re putting in across the country.”
Speaking about the progress the country is making, he said that it “seems like we are going in the wrong direction,” said Rickey Harris.
Activist Carolyn Ruff said she traveled from Chicago just to push for the passage of a federal law that would restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The 1965 Act outlawed discriminatory voting practices.
However, some states have made it harder for African-Americans to cast their votes.
The House of Representatives has passed two draft laws to limit voting restrictions, but many believe that they are unlikely to pass in the Senate.