PHOTOS: Hundreds Rally Congress to Restore the Voting Rights Act

by Rachel Rye Butler

September 20, 2015

Though America's 1,000-mile Journey for Justice has concluded, the movement to restore voting rights and protect the promise of democracy continues.

Voting Rights Rally Capitol Hill

Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP, addresses an impassioned crowd at a rally to restore the Voting Rights Act on September 16, 2015.

© Greenpeace / Robert Meyers

Amazing. That’s really the only word that encompasses how I’m feeling after this week’s #RestoreTheVRA rally on Congress’s lawn. Seeing buses bring in folks from around the country and watching hundreds of people gather in front of the capitol to stand up for voting rights was an amazing reminder of the strength of the movement we’re a part of.

When Greenpeace founded the Democracy Initiative alongside Sierra Club, NAACP and Communications Workers of America a few years ago, we knew that it was time we stopped fighting for just the environment or just civil and workers’ rights and started working together. It’s essential that we bridge the divide between our issues and, more importantly, take back our democracy from the corporate influence that’s holding back all kinds of progressive activists.

And so we met. And rallied. And planned. And reorganized. And changed. And grew. This week we demonstrated the results of that growth.

The energy in the crowd continued into the offices of members of Congress, as many had meetings to discuss voting rights in this country. The best part? Though you could see the great breadth of the movement fighting for our democracy from the signs folks carried and the t-shirts they wore, we were there as one.

For too long, corporate interests have had an outsized influence on our democracy. As a result, today there are fewer protections for the right to vote than there were 50 years ago. Reverend William Barber — a North Carolina political leader, social justice organizer, and NAACP board member — made a strong case for why we must stand together against this influence:

An attack on voting rights is an attack on workers’ rights. It’s an attack on environmental justice. It’s an attack on people power.

Reverend William Barber (paraphrased)

We cannot expect to move forward when our democracy is sliding backwards, and the work we have to do is far from over. The Voting Rights Act is only one bill, and restoring voting rights for all is only one part of giving equal voice to everyone in our democracy. If you haven’t yet been in touch with your representative about restoring the right to vote, now is a good time to start.

After you’ve had a chance to check out scenes from the rally below, share this post with a friend and let’s start building the world we all want to live in.

Rachel Rye Butler

By Rachel Rye Butler

Rachel Rye Butler is a campaigner at Greenpeace USA

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