Category Archives: Past Events

Advocates to Rally in Roanoke for Voting Rights and Democracy on Shelby Anniversary

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Rep. Goodlatte and Congress Urged to Restore the Voting Rights Act

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Simpson, 202.466.2061, simpson@civilrights.org
June 16, 2015

ROANOKE— On Thursday, June 25, hundreds of concerned Americans will join civil rights and voting rights advocates in Roanoke, Virginia’s Elmwood Park to mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision to gut the Voting Rights Act. Attendees will rally to defend the right to vote and to support a restoration of the Voting Rights Act. The rally will be attended by a large contingent of Roanoke-area residents who will be joined by buses and vans from Richmond and Tidewater, Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

Quote from Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:

“In this 50th anniversary year of the Voting Rights Act, voters are more vulnerable to discrimination than at any time since the law was first passed in 1965. Congressional leadership has yet to act on restoring the law and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who represents part of Roanoke and chairs the House Judiciary Committee, has yet to take action to protect voters from discrimination in Virginia and throughout the nation.

“Despite public outcry since the Shelby decision, Rep. Goodlatte has refused to even acknowledge widespread voting discrimination or to allow a hearing in his committee. Virginians currently live under racially gerrymandered districts; they understand that protecting voting rights for all means holding Congress and Rep. Goodlatte accountable for ignoring the responsibility to act.”

Participating organizations include the following national organizations alongside their state and local chapters: The Leadership Conference, Democracy Initiative, NAACP, NAACP Voter Fund, Communications Workers of America, A. Phillip Randolph Institute, Human Rights Campaign, Common Cause, Sierra Club, Asian Americans Advancing Justice—AAJC, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, Japanese American Citizens League, LULAC, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, League of Women Voters, NALEO, AFT, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Black Justice Coalition, National Action Network, People for the American Way, AFL-CIO, National LGBTQ Task Force, SEIU, and others.

Media can RSVP to Scott Simpson at Simpson@civilrights.org. Members of the media from the DC, Richmond, Tidewater, areas are welcome to travel to Roanoke with rally participants.

More information is available at www.VRAforToday.org.

Rally Details:

WHERE: Elmwood Park in Roanoke, Virginia

WHEN: Thursday, June 25 – Pre-Rally Program begins at 12:00pm / Rally begins at 1:00pm

Confirmed Speakers Include [List in Formation]:

  • Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
  • Priscilla Ouchida, Japanese American Citizens’ League (JACL)
  • Cornell William Brooks, NAACP
  • Larry Cohen, CWA
  • Stosh Cotler, Bend the Arc
  • Brenda Hale, Roanoke Branch, NAACP
  • Tanya Clay House, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Rev. William Barber, NAACP
  • Rev. Leslie Malachi, African American Ministers in Action, People for the American Way
  • VA State Senator John Edwards
  • Aaron Mair, Board President, Sierra Club
  • Miles Rapoport, Common Cause
  • Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality
  • Hector Sanchez, Hispanic Leadership Council/LCLAA
  • Sindy Benevidez, LULAC
  • Terry Ao Minnis, Asian Americans Advancing Justice / AAJC
  • Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO
  • Rabbi Kathy Cohen, Temple Emmanuel, Roanoke
  • Rabbi Michael Namath, Religious Action Center
  • Janaye Ingraham, National Action Network
  • J. Walter Tejada, Arlington Co. Board Vice Chairman
  • Rebecca Shankman, League of Women Voters of VA and Roanoke, VA
  • Kirk Jones, A. Phillip Randolph Institute (APRI) VA
  • Tom Calhoun, Norfolk Federation of Teachers
  • Dana Jackson, Blue Ridge Independent Living Center, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
  • Javontae McNear, VA NAACP Youth and College Division

Today, 9/17: “VRA for Today” Coalition Launch

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Featuring Voting Rights Advocates, Members of Congress, and 500,000 Americans

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, September 17, at 2:00 PM, a broad coalition of civil rights, labor, and progressive leaders will join with members of Congress at the House Visitors Center to launch the VRA for Today Coalition. These leaders will join their voices with more than 500,000 Americans who strongly support restoring the Voting Rights Act and protecting all voters from discrimination.

With the Supreme Court’s misguided and destructive decision last year in Shelby County v. Holder, voters will head to the polls in November with the weakest protections against voting discrimination in half a century. Yet so far Congress has failed to act—despite having a bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act drafted and ready to be debated and moved forward.

The half a million Americans and leading organizations involved in the VRA for Today Coalition stand together in an ongoing fight to restore the Voting Rights Act, with support that will only continue to grow after tomorrow’s launch. The names of the more than 500,000 Americans calling on Congress to protect voters from discrimination will also be delivered to Speaker Boehner.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 17, at 2:00 p.m.

WHO:

  • Congressman Steny Hoyer, House Minority Whip
  • Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
  • Congressman Bobby Scott, D-Virginia
  • Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Civil Rights Task Force Chair
  • Congressman G.K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina
  • Wade Henderson, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Marge Baker, executive vice president for policy and program, People for the American Way (PFAW)
  • Laura Murphy, director of the Washington Legislative office, the ACLU
  • Hadar Susskind, director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action
  • Hilary O. Shelton, Washington bureau director, the NAACP

WHAT: Launch of the VRA for Today Coalition with advocates and members of Congress, supported by more than 500,000 Americans 

WHERE: House Visitors Center – HVC 215

RSVP: Email Simpson@civilrights.org to RSVP

Advocates to Hold Rally for Voting Rights Following VRAA Senate Hearing

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Rally-Flyer-thumbnailToday at 12:30 p.m. voting rights and civil rights advocates will hold a rally on Capitol Hill urging the House of Representatives to take up a bipartisan bill to update and modernize the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. The rally will take place right after a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on ongoing racial discrimination in voting and the need for the new legislation.

The hearing and rally are being held on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision, which invalidated a key provision of the VRA and took away one of our most effective tools for addressing voting discrimination. On January 16, Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, R. Wisc., John Conyers, D. Mich., Steve Chabot, R. Ohio, John Lewis, D. Ga., Spencer Bachus, R. Ala., Bobby Scott, D. Va., and Sheila Jackson Lee, D. Texas., introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA), a modern, flexible, and forward-looking set of protections that work together to ensure an effective response to racial discrimination in voting in every part of the country. Senator Patrick Leahy, D. Vt. Introduced the VRAA in the Senate.

While the Senate has begun work on the VRAA, the House has yet to schedule a hearing on the bill or a markup of the bill in the House Judiciary Committee.

If you’re in Washington, D.C. today, come to the hearing in Room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building and then attend the rally at 12:30 p.m. on the House side of the U.S. Capitol Grounds near the House Triangle. In the case of rain, the rally will be held in Room 215 of the House Visitor Center).

Bloody Sunday Anniversary Events in Selma to Highlight Need for VRAA

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A number of events this weekend in commemoration of the 49th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march will take place in Selma, Alabama, including the Faith & Politics Institute’s 14th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund’s (LDF) discussion titled “Keeping America’s Promise: Defending Democracy in the Wake of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.”

The civil rights pilgrimage runs from March 7-9 and will travel with Pilgrimage Chairman Rep. John Lewis from the Mississippi Delta to Selma, Alabama, where participants will commemorate the 1965 Edmund Pettus Bridge crossing.

LDF’s voting rights panel will take place on Saturday, March 8, at the Saint James Hotel in Selma and will feature Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of LDF, Leslie Proll, director of LDF’s Washington, D.C. office, Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, and Jerome Gray, a civil rights activist in Evergreen, Ala., who was improperly removed from the city’s voting rolls.

And to see a full list of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee’s events, please click here.

Constitutional Lawyers Across Country to Present on Shelby Fallout

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American Constitution Society (ACS) chapters across the country will hold events to explore the impact of the recent Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act.

10/16 – Philadelphia, PA
The Earl Mack School of Law at Drexel University will hold “Shelby County v. Holder.” Professor Kermit Roosevelt will discuss the Supreme Court case, and speak about its impact and on Congress’ role in protecting the rights of voters.

10/16 – Columbia, MO
The University of Missouri School of Law will hold “Supreme Court Series: Shelby County v. Holder,” where Professor Richard Reuben will discuss the case.

10/23 – Los Angeles, CA
UCLA School of Law will hold “Exploring the Post-Shelby Voting Rights Act Framework,” where law professor Justin Levitt will conduct an in-depth analysis of the current Voting Rights Act framework following the Court’s Shelby decision.

VRA Community Forums in NY, NJ, OH, and Online

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This week, three cities will host forums about the importance of restoring the Voting Rights Act and a coalition of organizations will host an online webinar about next steps for activists.

9/24 in Rochester, NY
The League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area will host a forum on Tuesday, September 24 on the recent Supreme Court decision to find Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) unconstitutional. They will discuss the origins of the VRA, how the Court’s decision affects New York voters and what action they advocate to achieve restoration.

9/24 in Essex County, NJ
Essex County College in New Jersey will hold its annual Constitution Law Day on September 24. In light of the recent Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act, the theme of this year’s event will be “Democracy Under Siege: How Gutting the Voting Rights Act Can Crush Your Right to Vote.” Featured at this free, public event will be keynote speaker Walter Fields, CEO and executive editor of NorthStar News, who has worked as a journalist and columnist on race and public policy for the New Jersey Reporter, msnbc.com, and The Record.

9/25 Online
Ignited by the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate sections of the Voting Rights Act, a multi-state coalition of social justice organizations has united as Southern Leadership for Voter Engagement (SOLVE), which will educate and inform individuals in Southern states about the impact of the decision and steps being taken to address it. The group will host a free webinar on the impact of the Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder, the potential impact these changes may have in the states, and action steps for advocates who want Congress to restore the VRA.

9/28 in Cleveland, OH
U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge will participate in a public forum to discuss recent threats to voting rights, including how the public may take action to defend the Voting Rights Act.

Speakers will include Rep. Fudge, Mike Brickner of the ACLU of Ohio, Sheila Wright of the Cleveland NAACP, Harriet Applegate of the North Shore AFL-CIO, Jerry Gordon of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and Greg Coleridge of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, who will moderate the event.