MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Saturday, the NAACP held a voting rights caravan in honor of Civil Rights Icon and late Congressman John Lewis. Lewis died in July after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
The caravan of cars drove across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and made its way to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery. This was the same trip some 600 protesters took in 1965 that would eventually lead to the passage of a national Voting Rights Act.
Lewis was a leader in the march and was knocked to the ground and beaten by Alabama State Troopers. His skull was fractured, and nationally televised images of the brutality forced the country’s attention on racial oppression in the South.
“This is to commemorate John Lewis and his journey from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” said Bernard Simelton, President of the Alabama State Conference of NAACP. “He’s done all that he can do. Now it’s up to us to pick up the torch and continue the journey.”
With election day just around the corner, speakers encouraged people to make ‘good trouble,' as Lewis would say, and get out and vote.
“Our voice is our vote and none of us can be silenced in this election,” said Alabama Representative Terri Sewell.
“It was Congressman John Lewis, my beloved colleague and mentor, who said voting is the most powerful nonviolent tool in our democracy, let’s use it,” Sewell went on to say.
Speakers at the event were also advocating for the restoration of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act.
“It’s been in the Senate since last year,” Simelton said. “We want that act passed because it restores section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which is so important in ensuring everyone has the right to vote.”
Once attendees made it to the steps of the capitol members of the NAACP read Congressman John Lewi’s last written words before his passing.
“We are doing an additional tribute to him to make sure that his legacy lives on, but more importantly I think John Lewis would want us to make sure that we get out to the polls and vote," Simelton said.