Rev. Lennox Yearwood, head of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Hip-Hop Caucus, began with another chant, "Can't stop, won't stop!" and proceeded to acknowledge both the millennials and "those over 65" in the House of Representatives. "The restoration of voting rights is happening on our watch," he said. A new generation is coming together of many different peoples all with the same goal, to beat "James Crow, Esquire."
The twentieth century fight for equal rights has morphed into a fight for existence in the twenty-first century--for clean air and against rampant gun accidents and disasters; we must restore the VRA, adherence to the Motor Voter Act, and early registration. Will there even be voting rights in 2165? he wondered. Yearwood expressed faith that the millennials will stand up and restore the VRA.
Terri O'Neill, who followed, offered her perspective on this voting crisis: it impacts communities of color the most, but especially the women within them, who have such trouble obtaining their birth certificates because they have married and must in addition produce marriage certificates. Hours that polls are kept open are inconvenient for people who work two jobs and also have child-care responsibilities. When this large segment of the population can't vote, conservatives win, who legislate against women's rights.
"We will not go back! We will move forward!" she said.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson concluded the event by advocating automatic voter registration when students reach age 18 and the requirement that everyone have a birth certificate. Last year's commemorative march should have been to Shelby County, Alabama, rather than to the Pettus Bridge in Selma, he said.