Activists Rally for Civil Rights and Section 5By Lawayne Childrey | Published 01 May 2013 06:00am |
Photo courtesy of Lawayne Childrey/MPB News
More than two bus loads of freedom riders sat near the statue of civil rights icon Medgar Evers. The bronze statue sits high upon a pedestal on the grounds of the Medger Evers Library in Jackson. Fifty years ago Evers was gunned down at his Jackson home.
Faya Toure coordinated the pilgrimage that she says is long overdue.
"Some of us have forgotten the sacrifice, so we're silent as the Supreme Court decides whether or not to declare Section 5 unconstitutional," says Toure.
The Pilgrimage is one of a series of activities organized to support Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal pre-clearance of changes to a states election laws. It's constitutionality is being challenged by Shelby County, Alabama.
Officials there argue that the re-election of President Barack Obama demonstrates that the country has made tremendous racial progress. However, Tuskegee, Alabama Mayor Johnny Ford disagrees.
"President Obama is one man, he cannot solve this by himself the department of civil rights within the department of justice, has a responsibility for enforcing the voting rights act they should be out front, yet they are silent," asserts Ford.
The Alabama Freedom Riders were met by veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. Group Chairman, Hollis Watkins says if the Supreme Court decides to strike down Section 5. His biggest fear is that it could signal the return of voter intimidation tactics.
"It was the fear based on intimidation that kept most of our people from attempting to register in the late 50s and early 60s," says Watkins.
The requirement currently applies to Alabama, Mississippi and 7 other states. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman says he believes the time has come for that section of the law to be retired.
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