Sixty years after the Freedom Riders–a group of civil rights activists dedicated to fight against segregation–traveled through hostile Southern states by bus in order to spread their message, a new group of activists followed their lead in an attempt to fight for equal voting rights throughout the country.
USA Today reports that this was part of the Black Voters Matter bus tour, which took the reverse route that the Freedom Riders did during their 1961 trip. This included stopping in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee among other states. Black Voters Matter is an advocacy group that works to expand voting rights and access, while also increasing registration and turnout among Black voters.
From USA Today:
“This is game day,’’ LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told USA TODAY in an interview Friday aboard one of the buses. “We’re at the fork in the road where we will either go down the road of peril as it relates to democracy or we’re going to go down the road of great possibilities and promise.”
The Black Voters Matter trip, which started on June 19, happened the same week that Republican lawmakers prevented the For The People Act, which aimed to make it easier for citizens to register to vote and would set standards for voting by mail, absentee ballots and other things, from passing the Senate.
This was also the week that the Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia over the extremely restrictive voter legislation that has worked to enact because the department says it unfairly targets Black voters.
Based on both of those things, the fact that eight years have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court shot down the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and just by looking at everything else that has already happened in Georgia and other states regarding voter suppression, it’s easy to see that the efforts of Black Voters Matter are a necessity for many disenfranchised people right about now.
During a stop in Richmond, Va., the group organized a rally that featured food, tables set up to help formerly incarcerated residents register to vote and various speakers, which included an original Freedom Rider, who summed it up best.
More from USA Today:
Among the speakers was Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, 79, a former Freedom Rider who said she’s disappointed the fight to protect voting rights is still underway.
“It ain’t over til it’s over,’’ said Trumpauer Mulholland. “It’s a crying shame...We just have to keep pushing back.’’