Hundreds of people traveled to Roanoke yesterday from all corners of the commonwealth to rally on the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's Shelby County vs. Holder Decision. The 2013 case declared two provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional – paving the way for states and localities to implement changes to their voting laws.
The afternoon was organized in an effort to call on Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, to take action in restoring the voting rights act. Democratic State Senator John Edward was in attendance, supporting restoration and calling for a repeal of similar state-level laws.
“And make sure people understand that I believe in making the right to vote easier, not harder. The General Assembly in recent years has made it more difficult – voter ID cards, now photo ID cards – you have to have a photo ID card. A lot of people don't have a photo ID card.”
A number of concerned citizens and activist groups traveled to Elmwood Park from across the state to lend their energy to the day, such as Trevor Chandler, from Washington, DC:
“As a member of the LGBT community, having equal voting rights across the board is going to be pivotal to us moving our agenda forward. And we're standing here with our brothers and sisters in the civil rights community because they've stood with us too.”
And Kenneth, from Richmond:
“How old are you?”
“And why are you here today?”
“To support this group with voting rights and marriage rights.”
Roanoke resident Dan Crawford stood roadside with sign in hand for most of the rally. He was impressed with the turnout, noting that a vibrant democracy is key to progressing as a society:
“I love it - every time I'm part of a community, it's this diverse. It's a reminder of who we are and where our strength is.”
Speakers of the day included NAACP President Cornell Williams Brooks, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Wade Henderson, and President of the Sierra Club Aaron Mair.