CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — 60 years ago the ‘freedom rides’ protested racial segregation in the south.
On Thursday at the West Virginia Capitol, they were protesting voter suppression.
Charleston was the sixth stop for the caravan, which has made stops in southern cities like Nashville, Birmingham, and Raleigh.
The caravan is a throwback to the historic ‘freedom rides’ of the 1960s.
“During the time of the freedom rides, they faced a lot of blowbacks; there were people who threw rocks at the buses, there were people who would come off the buses and be threatened with death threats; the freedom rides was a very important part of our democracy,” said Tina Russell, chair of the West Virginia Working Families Party.
“We must keep the promise that our ancestors paid in order for us to vote,” said Russell.
Black Voters Matter organized the caravan.
They say voting rights are important now because 40 states are considering legislation that would disproportionately impact Black communities the most.
“There’s a belief in DC and in other places around the country that we don’t understand West Virginia politics,” said Nse Ufot with the New Georgia Project.
Like other speakers at the rally, Ufot criticized Sen. Joe Manchin’s opposition to the For The People Act, a national voting reform bill that failed in the Senate this week.
“Everything we’ve seen says that eight out of 10 West Virginians want to pass the For the People Act, that they actually want to make sure that their vote counts,” said Ufot.
“We stand here today because we want equity,” shouted Del. Danielle Walker (D-Monongalia) from the podium.
Voting, says Russell, is the best way to gain that equity.
“Our vote will decide things for our state, it will decide things like who gets to decide how much we pay in taxes, it decides who makes laws and ordinances and all types of things at the local level,” she said.
The ‘Freedom Ride for Voting Rides’ caravan continues Friday in Richmond, Virginia and culminates in DC Saturday.