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  Civil Rights Leaders to Senate: Eliminate Jim Crow Filibuster and Take Federal Action to Protect Voting Rights 

Sep 13, 2021

  Civil Rights Leaders to Senate: Eliminate Jim Crow Filibuster and Take Federal Action to Protect Voting Rights 

Senate Returns from Recess Following Tens of Thousands Marching for National Legislation at March On for Voting Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate returned from August recess after 101 national demonstrations on August 28th, where tens of thousands of people marched to demand Congress eliminate the filibuster to pass federal voting rights legislation. The civil rights leaders behind the March On for Voting Rights, including Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King, Rev. Sharpton and Alejandro Chavez, among others, insist that the first legislative priority on the Senate’s radar must be voting rights legislation.

“Senators heard our calls at marches across the country, and as they return from recess, they’ll continue to hear our calls, because we’re not turning down the volume,” said Martin Luther King III, Chairman of Drum Major Institute. “In one state after another, elected officials are making it harder and harder to vote because they refuse to accept the results of a free and fair election. Two weeks ago, we stood shoulder to shoulder to demand action from Congress, and the time to act is now.”

“The victories of the Civil Rights Movement are being overturned with the Jim Crow voting laws in Texas, Florida, Georgia, and more,” said Arndrea Waters King, President of Drum Major Institute. “This suppression can only be overturned with federal legislation, and we need Congress to treat this issue with the urgency we deserve for our livelihoods.”

“The filibuster is the long-standing practice keeping Black and Brown voters from their right to vote. We know it, Congress knows it, and the voters will no longer stand for federal suppression enacted by the leaders put in power to represent them.” said Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of National Action Network. “While our summer of activism concluded with nationwide demonstrations of Americans that demand more from their government, civil rights leaders will continue to take to Capitol Hill to pressure the Senate to protect our voting rights.”

“The Senate has a moral responsibility to protect the right of every American to freely and easily cast a vote and a duty to stop state legislatures from dragging us back to the time of Jim Crow,” said Andi Pringle, Political and Strategic Campaigns Director for March On. “On August 28, people in more than 100 cities across America stood arm in arm to demand the Senate act, and there is no waiting us out — we will not stop mobilizing in greater and greater numbers until Congress passes the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”

“As the Senate returns today, the 700,000, mostly Black and Brown residents of D.C. are once again reminded that we lack representation in the halls of Congress,” said Jamal Holtz, Lead Organizer of 51 for 51. “But still, thousands of D.C. residents marched on August 28th to demand Congress pass federal voting rights legislation, even though we don’t have a vote. Voter suppression is the most urgent civil rights issue of our lifetimes, and as we fight, we cannot forget D.C.”

A nationwide effort, the March On for Voting Rights was organized by the Drum Major Institute, the National Action Network, March On, Future Coalition, SEIU, and 51 for 51, with support from over 300 partner organizations. Flagship marches were held in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Phoenix and Miami with 101 additional activations across the country.

With the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, speakers in Washington, D.C. including Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King, Rev. Al Sharpton, Yolanda Renee King, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Congressman Mondaire Jones, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Al Green, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and local youth leaders Jamal Holtz and Demi Stratmon took the stage on the 58th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington to demand that the Senate pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the For The People Act and the Washington D.C. Admissions Act.

At flagship marches in Atlanta, Miami, and Phoenix in addition to over 100 sister marches and activations, activists turned out for rallies, concerts and votercades. In Atlanta, outside The King Center, speakers including Congresswoman Nikema Williams, Dr. Bernice King, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley and more took the stage, followed by a performance by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, who grew up in Atlanta and still calls the city home. Miami hosted a votercade and rally with thousands turning out. Phoenix hosted a celebratory experience at Pilgrim Baptist Church, with Alejandro Chavez, grandson of legendary organizer César Chávez.

Credit: Tony Mobley/The Hub Project

You can view public-use photos/videos from Washington D.C. here

You can view public-use photos/videos from Atlanta here.

You can view public-use photos/videos from Miami here.

You can view public-use photos/videos from Phoenix here.



About March On For Voting Rights


March On for Washington and Voting Rights is a mass mobilization to demand that elected officials protect democracy, denounce voter suppression, make D.C. a state, and ensure fair, easy access to the vote. On August 28, the 58th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, we will march on cities across America to demand that the vision of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech be deferred no longer. That means passing the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. The march is led by Drum Major Institute, March On, the National Action Network, Future Coalition, SEIU, and 51 for 51, and is joined by over 140 other partners. The march is funded through the #ForJohn campaign, a grassroots effort co-founded by Martin Luther King III and Arndrea King to fight voter suppression.


About March On


March On is a political organization composed of women-led political activist groups that grew out of the women’s marches of January 21, 2017. They have come together as a united force to take concrete, coordinated actions at the federal, state and local levels to impact elections and move the country in a progressive direction. For more information, visit


About the Drum Major Institute


The Drum Major Institute advances the core mission of our founder, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to assure that the arc of the moral universe continues to bend toward justice. Dr. King’s legacy and voice are as important today as they were upon our founding 60 years ago. To meet this historic moment, we are lending our unique ability to facilitate dialogue and collaboration to support the countless courageous acts of individuals and organizations across the nation and the world to ensure that the vital conversations that are now starting will sustain and advance far beyond this moment in time—and lead to tangible lasting outcomes. We encourage all people to embrace their role in the King legacy, take action in their community and strive to build the Beloved Community. Learn more at


About SEIU


Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide, and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit


About National Action Network


National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, criminal record, economic status, gender, gender expression, or sexuality. For more information, visit


About Future Coalition


Founded by youth activists for youth activists, Future Coalition is a network and community for youth-led organizations and Gen Z and young millennial leaders from across the country that came into being as a project of March On in the fall of 2018. Future Coalition works collaboratively to provide young people with the resources, tools, and support they need to create the change they want to see in their communities and in this country. For more information, visit


About 51 for 51


51 for 51 is a coalition of D.C.-based and national groups committed to equal representation for the over 700,000 D.C. residents who remain locked out of our democracy. The coalition of 20 progressive groups believe American citizens living in the District deserve a voice in Congress and control over their own local laws. Already, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Senators Warren, Markey, Gillibrand and Hickenlooper have endorsed 51 for 51’s proposed path to statehood.