Civil rights leaders announce another March on Washington after voting rights bill fails in Senate

Civil rights leaders announce another March on Washington after voting rights bill fails in Senate

A group of civil rights organizations will host another March on Washington in August to demand that Congress pass sweeping voting rights legislation and that state lawmakers halt efforts to enact bills that restrict voting access.

The announcement of the march comes one day after Senate Republicans blocked the For the People Act — a signature voting and election bill that Democrats had pitched to counter state-level efforts. Republicans denounced the bill as a partisan power grab and a federal overreach into state voting and election systems.

The march, set for Aug. 28 with the theme “March On for Voting Rights,” will mark the 58th anniversary of the historic March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Marches are set to be held in Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami, Phoenix and Houston.

Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr., will lead the march with his family’s organization the Drum Major Institute along with March On, Service Employees International Union and the National Action Network.

King called it a “sad state of affairs” that the voting bill didn’t get the support it needed from Republicans. He said he hopes the march will not only energize people to take a stand against voting rights restrictions in their own states but to get millions more people registered to vote.

“We are suggesting that we are going to continue to exert pressure on policymakers, our Republican senators who represent us in our states,” King told CNN on Wednesday. “These 50 Republican senators decided that it’s not even worth a discussion and that’s pretty sad.”

Rev. Al Sharpton, who heads the National Action Network, said it is critical that Americans march to defend the right to vote. This year, 48 states have introduced 389 bills that would restrict voting access after record turnout in the 2020 election delivered victories for Democrats. Some of the restrictions include banning ballot drop boxes, cutting early voting days and hours, prohibiting serving food and beverages to voters waiting in line and limiting who can vote by mail.

“It’s time for all Americans to come together and join this non-violent, non-partisan movement in the spirit of Dr. King and the values he pushed this nation to uphold,” Sharpton said. “I’m proud to be a part of the March On for Voting Rights because there is no democratic right more sacred than the right to vote, and it is under threat across America. We must fight to protect it.”

This will be the second consecutive year that organizers have commemorated the March on Washington with a renewed effort to fight for equality. Last year’s Get Your Knee Off Our Necks Commitment March in Washington pushed for both federal voting rights legislation, police reform and came at the height of a racial reckoning sparked by George Floyd’s death.

Tens of thousands of people attended the march including several families of Black people who have been killed by police. And while demonstrators marched for both the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, neither has been passed.