Freedom Riders for Voting Rights will arrive in Montgomery Wednesday afternoon, ending a two-day pilgrimage across Mississippi and Alabama. Their journey will culminate on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, where they say they'll hold a news conference to discuss the continuing struggle for voting rights. Since Tuesday, they have been traveling by bus to ten sites where someone fighting for the Voting Rights Act of 1964 was killed.
The pilgrimage is called "Never Again, Never Forget". It was planned in response to the current US Supreme Court case Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, et al., an Alabama case that seeks to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. It's a provision that requires states with a history of discrimination at the polls to get federal permission before making any changes in how they conduct elections, no matter how small. Shelby County attorneys argue that times have changed and the law is outdated, so this provision should be taken out. The Freedom Rider's want to keep Section 5 in place. They are making this Pilgrimage to make their voices heard.
"We want to send a message to the Supreme Court that we want section 5 of the Voting Rights Act kept alive. We want it kept because it is the pre-clearance section. We need to send a message to the President, to the Congress, and to the Supreme Court that we will not be silent when they are trying to take away voting rights." said Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee.
The Supreme Court 's decision is expected sometime in May or June. The bus rides were organized by member organizations of the National Coalition of Leaders to Save Section 5. Their news conference is expected at 4:00 Wednesday afternoon.
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