State and native civil rights activists host voters rights rally in Shelby County

SHELBY CO., Ala. (WBRC) – Civil rights activists from across the state gathered on the steps of the Shelby County Courthouse Friday to urge the public to stand up for voting rights and encourage lawmakers to pass laws to protect voters.

“We don’t ask, we demand that we be heard not only in the streets but in the halls of power,” said Pastor Clifton McMillian.

The press conference was held on the 8th anniversary of the Shelby v Holder case. In 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. Shelby County filed a federal lawsuit over Section 5 of the Act. It required certain jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to submit all proposed voting changes to the US Department of Justice before they went into effect.

“It started with a decision in Shelby County, Alabama,” said Jessica Fortune Barker, Alabama Association of Arts and Alabama Lift Our Vote, “and it became a decision that affected the nation as a whole.”

Activists at the event on Friday say frustration with the ruling continues and concerns increase when they look at what is going on across the country.

“Since the 2020 election, 43 states have tabled over 250 bills that further restrict postal voting,” said Reverend Carolyn Foster, Alabama’s Campaign for the Poor.

And their concerns also turn to Washington lawmakers. The Democratic-backed “For the People Act” failed this week in the Senate. Activists say they are stepping up their efforts in hopes of getting federal lawmakers to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which is likely to appear in the Senate later this year.

“It is time our voters were protected,” said Barker.

The organizers also held a rally in Orr Park in Montevallo to learn about voter reform efforts and to register to vote.

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