AGF Supports Voting Rights at Moral March in Raleigh
On Saturday, February 13, 2016, thousands of people throughout the state of North Carolina and beyond gathered in its capital, Raleigh, to rally for voting rights. This gathering was in support of a lawsuit filed by the North Carolina NAACP challenging the most stringent voter ID restrictions of any state in the country. Reverend William Barber II of the NAACP led a procession of North Carolinians from diverse sectors — from union leaders, to educators, to healthcare providers. All came together to uplift the rights to a decent and equal quality of life for the citizens of this state and to ensure that each person had access to their inalienable right to vote.
The Andrew Goodman Foundation supported these efforts and rallied behind this cause because this is the front line of the battle for voting rights. AGF’s Vote Everywhere program, currently in 42 schools in 19 states across the country, has four of its schools in North Carolina: University of North Carolina – Charlotte, Elon University, Western Carolina University and East Carolina University. As our student Ambassadors in these schools work hard to register, educate and empower their peers around voting, they face an uphill battle as increasingly problematic voter restrictions roll out in the state. These restrictions actively disempower and alienate the vote of young people and people of color. In response to these attacks on their right to a free and fair democracy, our NC Vote Everywhere Ambassadors came out and organized their peers to take a stand to ensure that their voices and votes will be heard.
Approximately 40 students came out with our Ambassadors to march side by side holding the images of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. Their march carried with it the history of the martyrdom represented by these young men as they also stood for the right to vote. Over 50 years later, our young people are still coming out to fight the same fight. Marching forward in freezing winter weather, the protestors walked together until they reached their final stop in front of the state capitol building; the very same building where voting provisions for the state’s own citizens were struck down.
On stage, Reverend Barber spoke of the legacy of a fight that began long before the 1960’s and has continued since then. He encouraged the crowd to keep on fighting because only persistence would bring the victory to the masses. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. “This is our Selma. This is our time. This is our vote,” Barber told the crowd.
David Goodman, President of The Andrew Goodman Foundation, also addressed the crowd. “The reason we are here today is that voting rights are threatened again with restrictive laws, practices that make voting overly difficult, inconvenient, and intentionally marginalizing certain citizens.”
Our Vote Everywhere Ambassadors came together today joining in this march and rally because they live the promise of a truly representative democracy every day. They work tirelessly to improve civic engagement on their campuses and reduce barriers to voting for their peers and local communities. The spirit of the march weaves itself throughout the work they dedicate themselves to as they table outside dorms with registration forms, as they meet with college administration to organize voting coalitions and as they come together from around the state to stand together as one, a gathering of young people united in their commitment to democracy and a better tomorrow, a tomorrow that will one day guarantee that one person one vote is no longer a rallying cry, but a lived reality of every citizen in this country.