August 24, 2021


As the House Passes the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Leaders Say “The Senate Must Act Now”

Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King, Rev. Al Sharpton, Andi Pringle and More Will Lead Nationwide Mobilization on Saturday to Demand Voting Right Legislation

Washington, D.C. — Tonight, the House passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which seeks to restore critical provisions of the Voting Rights Act gutted by the Supreme Court. The bill would help beat back the rush of attacks on voting rights from state legislatures across the country, by ensuring that states with a recent history of voter discrimination are once again subject to federal oversight.

Along with the For The People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would secure the right to vote for all Americans, prevent racist gerrymandering and move America closer to equal representation for all. These bills now sit with the Senate, where they are subject to the filibuster — a Jim Crow relic that enables a minority of Senators, who represent as little as 34 percent of voters, to block legislation favored by the majority.

This Saturday in cities across the nation, March On for Voting Rights will call on the Senate to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act, and bypass the filibuster to do it if necessary. Millions will join the March On for Voting Rights in D.C., Phoenix, Atlanta, Houston, Miami and nearly 50 other cities across the country to make their voices heard. March organizers issued statements in response to tonight’s news.

Martin Luther King III, Chairman of the Drum Major Institute, commented in response:

“John Lewis told us that the vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have. We are in a battle to protect our most sacred right and I commend the House of Representatives for recognizing the necessity of the John Lewis Voting Rights Restoration Act. Now, it’s time for us, the American People, to show the Senate that we are demanding an end to the filibuster, that Jim Crow relic, and an end to voter suppression, once and for all. Join us on August 28th to remind the Senate that they are there to represent us.”

Arndrea Waters King, President of the Drum Major Institute, commented in response:

“There is no more important time than now to show up and show those in office that we will not stand by as our right to vote is compromised. It is up to us to show the Senate that passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act is the moral, the just, and the right thing to do. We will march just as our parents and grandparents marched to demand the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If you ask yourself if you would have marched then, ask yourself if you are marching now.”

Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of National Action Network, commented in response:

“Tireless hours by members of Congress and civil rights leaders have brought the issue of federally mandated voter suppression to the forefront of conversations around American democracy. This is only the start of the fight to move farther and farther away from the Jim Crow Era. We wrap our summer of activism with a March On for Voting Rights in Washington D.C. to convene and continue to pressure legislative leaders to do away with racist practices and cement protection for all people’s right to power into law.”

Andi Pringle, Political and Strategic Campaigns Director at March On, commented in response:

“The passage of this bill is a necessary step in the fight to secure voting rights for all Americans, and the next step is for the American people to take to the streets on August 28 and demand the Senate take action to approve it and send it to President Biden. The filibuster—a relic of the Jim Crow South—stands in the way, and we’re calling on our leaders to do what is morally right and eliminate the filibuster so that every American has free and equal access to the ballot. That is the most basic tenet of democracy, and it’s time that we live up to America’s founding principles. The clock is ticking.”

Stasha Rhodes, Campaign Manager of 51 for 51, commented in response:

“Tonight’s passage brings us tantalizingly close to securing the sacred right to vote for all Americans, but we know the Jim Crow filibuster still stands in our way. The Senate for too long has allowed a minority of Republican Senators to deny access to our constitutional right to the vote. We will march on this Saturday to demand that Congress does everything in its power to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the For the People Act and the Washington D.C. Admissions Act. That means bypassing the Jim Crow filibuster, after Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have used it time and again to block crucial, popular legislation to defend our rights. The call now is clear, and the stakes are too high for inaction.”

Sophia Woodrow, Community Manager of Future Coalition commented in response:

“As a young person, it is fundamental that our voting rights be protected. This act, combined with the action imminent with March On For Voting Rights, demonstrates a renewed commitment to protecting the voices of every American. Tonight the House took the first step in ensuring this renewed commitment gets put into law; the fate of our voting rights now rests with the Senate. To protect the integrity of our democracy, it’s imperative that we do not allow the filibuster to block this crucial legislation. We are calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to guarantee the rights of Americans and youth for generations to come.”

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About March On for Voting Rights

March On for Voting Rights is a mass mobilization to demand that elected officials protect democracy, denounce voter suppression, make D.C. a state, and ensure fair, easy access to the vote. On August 28, the 58th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, we will march on cities across America to demand that the vision of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech be deferred no longer. That means passing the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. The march is led by Drum Major Institute, March On, the National Action Network, Future Coalition, SEIU, and 51 for 51, and is joined by over 140 other partners. The march is funded through the #ForJohn campaign, a grassroots effort co-founded by Martin Luther King III and Arndrea King to fight voter suppression.