“I gave a little blood on that bridge, for the right to vote.” Congressman John Lewis recalling that fateful day, March 7, 1965, when he and a group of peaceful protestors were attempting to march to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. They were attacked by armed officers on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama. History refers to it as “Bloody Sunday”.
Congressman Lewis, and two other African American members of Georgia’s Congressional Delegation, were in Atlanta Monday, calling on Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to, “open up the political process, to make it easier and simple for every citizen to participate.” Lewis said that other states, have made the voting process more accessible, but he added, “There are forces right here in the State of Georgia, and there are forces in this country trying to use every means possible to take us back. We’ve come too far, we’ve made too much progress and we’re not going back.” He was joined by Congressmen Hank Johnson (D-4th) and Sanford Bishop (D-2nd)
A highly-respected Congressman, Lewis told V103/WAOK News, “I almost died on that bridge and I don’t want to see us go back, I want to go forward.”
Rabbi Peter Berg, from The Temple in Atlanta, Georgia, said, “We have an obligation to stand up when something is utterly and morally wrong.” Berg said he was there to support the non-partisan efforts of the New Georgia Project, because, “It is morally wrong. It is reprehensible. It is against every faith tradition, and it is against everything that this free country and this state stand for when thousands and thousands in Georgia continue to remain disenfranchised from voting in local and federal elections.”
18 year old first-year student, Diamond Walton, of Fayetteville, Georgia, said that she hopes to be a voter in the November election. A student at Columbus State University, Walton said, “I registered to vote in August, it is now October, and I have yet to receive my voter registration card.” Walton added, “Every vote counts, and I would like to be counted.” Walton said that she registered to vote through the group New Voter Project.
Georgia House Minority Whip Stacey Abrams, founder of the New Georgia Project, said that Walton is “but one of the more than 40-thousand applicants who are still awaiting processing in the State of Georgia.” Secretary of State Kemp accused NGP of fraud, after 30 voter applications done through the group, were found to be questionable.
Reverend Raphael Warnock, Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, said, “We aren’t getting answers. This is Secretary Kemp’s job and the progress is unacceptable. It is our moral imperative to make sure Georgians have the right to vote.”
A coalition of groups attended the news conference in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. They included Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, and Stand Up. Atlanta State Senator Donzella James, representing the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, told V103/WAOK News, “We have attempted to meet with the Secretary of State on two occasions. The second time, he sent his staff to meet with us. He has not met with us either time.”
When asked why they thought, in this day and age, what is termed ‘voter suppression’ continues, Congressman Bishop told V103/WAOK News, “Politics is nothing more than who gets what, when, and how. And it is those people who are elected officials who make the decisions about who get what, when, and how. And only voters are able to select those people.” Bishop previously served in both the Georgia State House and Senate.
Monday was the last day to register to vote for the November election.