WINSTON-SALEM, NC - Thousands of people from across North Carolina and the country descended on Winston-Salem tonight to march for the full restoration of voting rights in the state that is home to what has been described as the worst voter suppression law in the country.
The march began in Corpening Plaza at 5:15, shortly after the close of the first day of trial. The marchers then met NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and attorneys from Advancement Project and Kirkland & Ellis at the U.S. District Courthouse before continuing the march and returning to Corpening Plaza.
Civil rights and religious leaders representing many faiths from North Carolina and across the country spoke at the rally.
Rev. Dr. Barber delivered the keynote address. "We need to remember that these rights were won by blood," Rev. Dr. Barber said. "Blood has been shed -- back then and right now. How dare the Tea Party trample on the blood of our martyrs? How dare the Koch brothers, with their money, try to violate our rights that were written in blood? 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed in blood, how dare somebody try to use political power to desecrate the blood of the martyrs? How dare they desecrate the graves and the memory and the blood of Martin and Medgar and James Reeb and Jimmie Lee Jackson and Viola Liuzzo and four girls in a Birmingham church and nine souls in a Charleston church?"
"We must resist this sin because too many have died! Too many have suffered! Too many have bled! There's too much power in the blood for us to be silent now!"
"So you want to know why we've come to Winston-Salem? You want to know why this is our Selma? We have come to recommit and reconsecrate ourselves back to the movement. We will not let what was won be taken away. We will restore the dream."
The federal voting rights trial is expected to last three weeks and will have an impact on voting rights not only in North Carolina, but across the United States.