You’re invited to get on the bus and join the NAACP as it finishes it’s 860-mile Journey For Justice this summer, in commemoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the continuing struggle to protect hard-won civil rights.
The Alabama NAACP is sponsoring a bus for those who want to make the final stop in Washington, D.C. for a rally on Sept. 16. The cost is $150; the deadline for the payment is Aug. 29.
Since August 1, activists and concerned citizens from across the country has joined the NAACP in America’s Journey for Justice – an historic 860-mile march from the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama, the pivotal site of the voting rights movement, to Washington, D.C.
Its purpose is to mobilize and advance a focused national advocacy agenda that protects the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage, and equitable public education.
Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton says the most important demand of the journey is to restore the protections under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court robbed of its power in its disastrous Shelby County v. Holder decision in 2013.
The 15th Amendment of the (U.S.) gave former slaves the rights to vote as citizens of the nation, he says, “but then these states came up with laws that essentially did away with this right, like counting the bubbles in a bar of soap. Then came the Voting Rights Act to do away with that.”
Since the Supreme Court’s decision, Simelton some states have created new barriers designed to curtail the votes of racial minorities and other groups. “Now they’re saying you have to have an ID, or a birth certificate. Or they refuse to restore the rights of ex-offenders who have served their time,” he says. “The new laws are making it more and more restrictive. The same can be said about healthcare. Even thought (the Affordable Care Act) it’s been passed into law by Congress and reviewed by the Supreme Court that upheld it, some states still refuse to implement it.
“The only way to change this is the vote. Until African Americans and other minorities wake up and smell the coffee, and get up and go vote, we will have to face repressive laws that curb our rights.”
So the Journey for Justice serves as a reminder of the work done in the past, but also encourages concerned citizens to make their voices heard. Simelton said that after the rally, NAACP officials will visit elected officials in the halls of the U.S. Congress to advocate for policies that further the Journey’s agenda.
That agenda includes working to undo the dismantling of public education through charter schools, which in some states are allow to shift limited public dollars to affluent private and religious schools, to the detriment of poorer school districts. It also includes advocacy for greater fairness in the American justice system, which has been shown to disproportionately penalize and incarcerate people of color at much higher rates than whites who commit similar crimes.
“As (Alabama Sen.) Hank Sanders says, voting impacts everything we do, even the air we breathe,” Simelton says. “The system where it is now — from building highways to the criminal justice system to education — is now headed in a direction that unfair to large segments of our society. Every issue we’ve had to face to improve our conditions can be traced back to exercising our voting rights.”
Simelton and other NAACP leaders from around the country urge concerned citizens to support a bill sponored by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, a Selma native. Sewell is a lead sponsor of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, a bill that restores and advances the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by providing a modern day coverage test that will extend federal oversight to jurisdictions which have a history of voter suppression and protects vulnerable communities from discriminatory voting practices.
GET ON THE BUS: AMERICA’S JOURNEY FOR JUSTICE DETAILS
ITINERARY: Depart Alabama on Sept. 15 at times indicated below; Arrive Washington, DC at 10:00 a.m. on Sept. 16th; Participate in Rally at 2:00 p.m. Depart DC Sept. 16 at 6:00pm and arrive back in Alabama between 9:00am and 1:00 pm on Sept. 17, depending on drop off locations.
PICK UP LOCATIONS AND TIMES:
- MOBILE: Springdale Mall Burlington Shopping Center, 11:00 a.m. Sept. 15
- MONTGOMERY: ACADOME at Alabama State Univ, 2:00 p.m. Sept. 15
- BIRMINGHAM: Parking Lot corner of 16th St. North and 4th Ave. North, 4:00 p.m., Sept. 15 (Look for NAACP Signs)
COST: $150 per person, transportation only
DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING PAYMENT IS AUG 29TH. Complete the form below and mail with full payment to: Alabama NAACP P.O. Box 866 Athens, AL 35612, check payable to NAACP or pay via Paypal at www.alnaacp.org (donate button, add 2.5% or $3.75 per person).
Contact Lyn Mitchell, 251-591-8408 of the Mobile County NAACP or Pastor Kenneth Dukes in Birmingham at 205-902-5137 or the NAACP Office, 256-444-1300, for additional information and to confirm bus reservation.
FOLLOW #JUSTICESUMMER ONLINE
Trace the steps on America’s Journey for Justice on social media through Storify, the NAACP’s Instagram page, and NAACP President Cornell William Brooks‘s Twitter page and the Twitter hashtag #JusticeSummer.
Read a story by Max Blau for The Guardian,