Faith leaders, local and state representatives, national civil rights leaders were arrested in a series of actions calling on the Biden administration to protect the freedom to vote
Washington, DC — Voting rights activists escalated demands for the White House to act on voting rights today, in an action that resulted in the arrests of 59 participants, including leading youth activist Yolanda King, the 13-year-old granddaughter of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Following a blocked vote on the Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate last month, activists are mobilizing to protect our democracy and the right to vote without fear of discrimination. Today’s action follows a previous demonstration at the White House on Oct. 19 at which 25 activists were arrested and comes on the day of an expected vote in the Senate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
The action highlighted the power of youth activists and was led by People For the American Way, the League of Women Voters of the United States, and the Declaration for American Democracy. Participants called on President Biden to use the influence of his office to get the Freedom to Vote Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Washington, DC Admission Act passed in the Senate. Danton Whitley and members of the Baltimore Urban Inspiration Choir performed at the event.
Participants arrested during today’s action included:
- Martin Luther King III, chairman, Drum Majors for Change
- Yolanda Renee King, youth activist and granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Arndrea Waters King, president, Drum Majors for Change
- Ben Jealous, President, People For the American Way
- Jana Morgan, director, Declaration for American Democracy
- Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO, League of Women Voters
- Liz Bander, board director, League of Women Voters
- Alma Couverthie, national organizing director, League of Women Voters
- Morgan Jealous, People For the American Way
- Addison Rose, DC youth mayor
- Lourdes Robinson, DC youth mayor
- Charly Carter, executive director, Democracy Initiative
- Vanessa Wruble, executive director of March On
- Soleil Moon Frye, People For the American Way
- Jagger Goldberg, youth activist and daughter of Soleil Moon Frye
- Poet Goldberg, youth activist and daughter of Soleil Moon Frye
- Larry Cohen, board chair, Our Revolution
- Sean Eldridge, president & founder of Stand Up America
- Ann Toback, CEO of The Workers Circle
- Richard Rumelt, president of The Workers Circle
- Noelle Damico, director of social justice at The Workers Circle
- Sally Guttmacher, board member at The Workers Circle
- Laurence Broun, The Workers Circle
- Noa Baron, college organizer/voting rights organizer at The Workers Circle
- Nikki Tyree, League of Women Voters of Maryland
- Janet Belizzi, League of Women Voters of Maryland
- Cliff Albright, Black Voters Matter
- Jamal Holtz, 51 for 51
- Morgan Stahr, Blue Future
- Reverend Charles Williams, National Action Network
- Reverend Mark Thompson, March On
- Reverend Lewis Logan, Covington, GA, People For the American Way African American Ministers in Action
- Josh Silver, Represent Us
- Joshua Horowitz, the Worker's Circle (College Network)
- Autumn Siegmund, the Worker's Circle (College Network)
- Jasmine Prophete, the Worker's Circle (College Network)
- Merly Lopez, the Worker's Circle (College Network)
- Sarah Fishkind, the Worker's Circle (College Network)
- Alannah Boyle, Faithful Democracy
- Sara Steffens, Communications Workers of America
- Shane Larson, Communications Workers of America
- Yasmine Guedalia, Future Coalition
- Reverend Patrick Young, Queens, NY, People For the American Way African American Ministers in Action
- Councilman Nathan Alexander III, Prairie View, TX, People For the American Way Young Elected Officials Network
- Tylik McMilla, National Action Network
- Dr. Susan Smith, Columbus, OH, People For the American Way African American Ministers in Action
- Reverend Jimmy Gates, Cleveland, OH, People For the American Way African American Ministers in Action
- Reverend Larry Harris, Cleveland, OH, People For the American Way African American Ministers in Action
- Bishop Tony Minor, Cleveland, OH, People For the American Way African American Ministers in Action
- Wanda Mosley, Black Voters Matter
- Laurie Woodward-Garcia, Broward for Progress
- Cecilia Bernard, Declaration for American Democracy
- Dr. Steve Bland, Detroit, MI, People For the American Way African American Ministers in Action
- Kevin Rissmiller, Equal Citizen
- Shawn Braxton Jr, Cleveland, OH, People for the American Way African American Ministers in Action
- Henry Westgard, the Worker's Circle
- Joe Kirchner, Our Revolution
- Alice Shaffer Smith, National Voter Corps
- Crosby King, activist
QUOTES FROM PARTICIPANTS
“I am proud to stand with my daughter and the other young people risking arrest today outside the White House. It’s important to have youth involved — young people are our future. President Biden must use the full power of the White House to protect our sacred right to vote and deliver transformational voting rights legislation to the American people. Words are not enough. We need to see action,” said Martin Luther King III, chairman, Drum Majors for Change.
“Young people came to the White House today to deliver a clear message: our voices matter. I hope President Biden heard all of our voices today and will take swift action to protect my generation’s right to vote before it’s too late. We deserve to grow up in a country that makes sure every voice is heard and every vote is counted, my generation will continue until my grandfather’s dream is realized,” said Yolanda Renee King, youth activist and granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The actions President Biden takes today will impact the policies that shape our lives for the next decade. That is why we wanted to take action as a family. President Biden knows the stakes could not be any higher and he’s made that clear in speeches. Now we need to see him take action to protect our freedom to vote. The Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will ensure safe and accessible voting, ban partisan gerrymandering, and help realize the promise of democracy for all,” said Arndrea Waters King, president, Drum Majors for Change.
“When we started demonstrating at the White House two months ago, I only dreamed that our voices would grow into such a powerful and diverse coalition, with youth activists making their voices heard. We are proud to stand here today with these young leaders to once again remind the White House that President Biden must use his full power to push the Senate to pass voting rights legislation now,” said Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO of the League of Women Voters of the United States.
“Kids who can’t even vote now are risking arrest to ensure that they will have the freedom to vote in the years to come. I’m here to stand with them because this is about our shared future. Voting rights are foundational to democracy. We’re going to keep coming back to make sure that President Biden keeps his promise and uses his influence to pass critical voting rights legislation,” said Liz Bander, League of Women Voters of the United States board director.
“We are so proud to have powerful, passionate youth activists with us at the White House demanding that President Biden stand up for voting rights. My 15-year-old daughter, Morgan, and I came out today because we are deeply concerned about the Far Right undermining voting rights for the next generation, especially young people of color. We have seen voting rights repeatedly blocked in the Senate by lawmakers using the Jim Crow filibuster, and it’s time for the president to stand up and put a stop to it. Joe Biden occupies the most powerful office on earth, and there is no excuse for him to allow voting rights to wither and die. He must act now for the sake of our young people and our democracy,” said Ben Jealous, president of People For the American Way.
“President Biden and Senate Democrats must do whatever it takes to deliver the Freedom to Vote Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood to the American people. We cannot allow continued Republican obstruction and outdated procedures and loopholes to block debate on popular legislation at this critical moment when our democracy and right to vote are under attack,” said Jana Morgan, director of the Declaration for American Democracy.
“Our youth, Gen Z, is more powerful than ever today with the countless resources and unparalleled creativity when it comes to approaching social injustices. So this is just the beginning of DC and the rest of the world seeing our young faces and hearing strong, collective voices,” said Addison Rose, youth mayor of DC with the Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute.
“Today, once again, we will watch a minority in the US Senate who represent just a sliver of our nation block voting protections for all Americans. Once again, we call on President Biden to take action to protect our democracy. As Dr. Martin Luther King wrote: ‘Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity,’” said Charly Carter, executive director of Democracy Initiative.
"The civil rights leaders of the 1960s showed us that nothing happens when you sit around and wait for the government to protect your rights. We will not stop demonstrating, protesting and demanding that our government — especially those who ran on a platform of fighting for our rights — pass legislation that protects the right of every American to cast a ballot. No more excuses, no more filibuster, no more delay,” said Vanessa Wruble, executive director of March On.
“As a teenager growing up our generation has seen so much. It’s come to the point where taking off school to tell the government to do their job is so important. I’m so beyond grateful to be just a little part of this,” said Jagger Goldberg, youth activist and daughter of Soleil Moon Frye.
“Everything starts with voting rights, climate justice, gun violence prevention, education reform, and all other issues are predated by our vote. We must continue to fight for a future that truly represents us,” said Ema Ángulo Rodríguez, community manager at Future Coalition.
“Voting rights is the gateway to everything we imagine our nation can be. The dreams we have are blocked by voter suppression and the Senate rules. Our civil disobedience at the White House represents our refusal to accept this perversion of democracy, and we will resist for as long as it takes to change it,” said Larry Cohen, board chair, Our Revolution.
“President Biden has said that we’re facing the ‘most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War’—it’s time to act like it. We don’t need more handwringing, more delays, or more excuses. We need action on voting rights now. It’s time for President Biden to loudly and clearly call on the Senate to end the Jim Crow filibuster and protect the freedom to vote,” said Sean Eldridge, president & founder of Stand Up America.
“I am here as the leader of the Workers Circle, a Jewish organization that was founded by Eastern European immigrants who came at great cost to the United States, seeking the liberties and protections of a Democracy by and for the people. Today we are back at the White House engaging in civil disobedience to send a strong message to President Biden to use all his power and influence to end the Senate filibuster and get the Freedom to Vote and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act passed. Failure for these bills' immediate passage will mean the end of our Democracy as we know it,” said Ann Toback, CEO of The Workers Circle.
“We are at a critical juncture in our democracy. In states across the country, including my state of Florida, laws are being passed with the express purpose of limiting access to the ballot box. As Jews, we are directed to pursue justice. As engaged citizens we cannot watch with academic indifference as the rights of some of us are reduced. We must act,” said Richard Rumelt, president of The Workers Circle.
“I am here getting arrested for the third time, to underscore that time is running out for our democracy. President Biden, match your words with deeds and fix or nix the filibuster to pass federal voting rights legislation now. America is counting on you,” said Noelle Damico, director of social justice at The Workers Circle.
“The traditions of my Jewish culture compel me to act to thwart the efforts of many Republican lawmakers to curtail voting rights. Their actions have made it clear to me that nothing is more important for maintaining our democracy than protecting and supporting the voting rights of every citizen,” said Sally Guttmacher, board member at The Workers Circle.
“As a retired government executive, I have sworn an oath to protect the Constitution and believe there is nothing more integral to our form of government than the right of every American to cast their vote on election day. Impeding the right to vote for partisan political benefit erodes our precious democracy,” said Laurence Broun, member of The Workers Circle.
“I'm risking arrest because I want to honor the legacy of all the activists before me, who believed that this country could be something better. 121 years ago, Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants, like those who founded the Workers Circle, came to this country seeking a better life. They believed that this country could be something beautiful, and they fought for their ideals, and their livelihoods, in the labor movement. I refuse to let their dreams of a better world die. I know that voting rights are key to building the society I wish to see, and I'm willing to fight for it,” said Noa Baron, college organizer/voting rights organizer at The Workers Circle, Senior at NYU.
About League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters envisions a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate. We believe in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy.
About People For the American Way
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity, and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity. Learn more: http://www.pfaw.org
About the Declaration for American Democracy
The Declaration for American Democracy is a coalition of more than 240 organizations from labor, racial justice, voting rights, faith, environmental, women’s rights, good government, business, and many other important communities, standing together to realize a democracy that represents, reflects, and responds to all of us.
PRESS CONTACT: Sarah Courtney | 202-263-1332 | [email protected]
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