1965 Voting Rights Act 50th Anniversary Commemoration Starts August 1st

1965 Voting Rights ActCalifornia and New York are covered with Southern states in recent ruling of 2015 Voting Rights Advancement Act Fix

On Wednesday, July 29 at 9 am on the Los Angeles City Hall West Steps, elected officials will join a multi-cultural coalition at a press conference to announce the Los Angeles commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) kicking off Saturday, August 1 with a slate of
programs through August 9, including a tribute on the actual VRA signing date of Thursday, August 6.

This “VRA 50th Anniversary Week” will come on the heels of a summer rife with both new and past painful memories tied to voting rights and racial equality – from the June 1963 Mississippi murders of voter registration volunteers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, as well as activist Medgar Evers to the June 17 Charleston, South Carolina massacre of Emanuel AME pastor, Democratic State Senator Clementa Pinckney and 8 congregants. As Coalition Co-Chair, Pastor William D. Smart, Jr, President/CEO, SCLC of Southern California (founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), somberly noted, “The Charleston tragedy is our 21st Century Birmingham church bombing that killed those four little girls in 1963. And shows that despite recent landmark Supreme Court decisions, we still have much work to do.

And because that work has to also happen through elected officials, it’s even more important we secure voting rights for all.” That importance was not only demonstrated by the South Carolina State Legislature’s voting process and bi-partisan decision to remove the Confederate flag from state grounds (as 2015 marks the 150 Anniversary of the Civil War’s end), but through Democratic congressional members filing the 2015 Voting Rights Advancement Act – a needed legislative fix to restore VRA protections the Supreme Court gutted in Shelby County vs. Holder. In fact, the new Act covers California as one of the initial 13 states (including New York and 11 Southern states), needing oversight and voter protection in select counties, due to chronic voting access/exercising of voting rights issues facing minority and naturalized citizens.

It is this congressional re-galvanizing behind the VRA and the upcoming 2016 election season, that’s also prompted a voting rights call-to-action by the diverse coalition of advocacy/civil rights organizations, faith-based/interfaith entities, community groups and labor unions at local, state, regional and national levels, ranging from the ACLU to the Teamsters (see attached). Also with the Coalition is LA’s Holman United Methodist Church, whose Pastor Emeritus is civil rights legend, Rev. James Lawson. Lawson is participating on the Coalition’s August 3 voting rights panel that includes another social justice stalwart,

Warren Furutani. In addition to such panels and the August 6 tribute, other commemoration activities are as diverse as the Coalition, from a town hall to a citywide interfaith initiative to critical calls-to-action to resolution recognitions to live music and open mic events to an online PSA series directed by famed filmmaker, Charles Burnett, whose Selma, Lord, Selma for ABC, featured Dr. King’s late daughter, Yolanda King in the cast.

In October, the Coalition will also commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) — hence, its official name, the 50th Anniversary VRA & INA Commemoration | Call-to-Action Coalition. For further information, please contact Lura Ball at (626) 788-1965 or
[email protected]

The 50th Anniversary VRA & INA Commemoration |Call-to-Action Coalition is based in Los Angeles, and consists of advocacy/civil rights/human rights organizations, faith-based/interfaith entities, community groups and labor unions at the local, state, regional and national levels.

(partial listing as of publication)

  • ACLU of Southern California
  • AFSCME District Council 36
  • AME Ministerial Alliance of Southern California
  • API Equality-LA
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA)
  • Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON)
  • Asian Youth Center
  • Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
  • Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice – LA (CLUE-LA)
  • Community Coalition
  • Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
  • Holman United Methodist Church
  • Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
  • Justice Not Jails
  • K.W. Lee Center for Leadership
  • Knox Presbyterian Church
  • LA County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
  • National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
  • New Frontier Democratic Club
  • Serve The People Institute
  • SEIU 721
  • SEIU United Service Workers, West
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California (SCLC-SC)
  • The Row Church
  • Teamsters Local 396
  • Walker Temple AME Church