Voting rights demonstrations honor late legislator John Lewis
As Regina Brent affixed a sign to her car with a picture of the late congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, she recalled other voting rights demonstrations she has attended throughout her life.
"It's very taxing on African American people that we have to be cognizant of attacks on our voting rights every day," the Naperville woman said. "I'm tired of being sick and tired that generation after generation have to be fighting disparity all based on the color of our skin."
Brent was one of roughly 200 voting rights advocates who turned out Saturday in Warrenville for one of hundreds of "Votercades" happening across the country to raise awareness for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The proposed legislation aims to thwart what supporters contend are a series of "voter suppression" laws passed in the wake of the 2020 presidential election by state legislatures controlled by Republicans.
"The delusion of voter fraud has become an epidemic, some would say a pandemic," said U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Schaumburg. "The repeated assault on voting rights has infected our democracy, but the vaccine is the John Lewis Voting Rights Act."
Krishnamoorthi was one of three Democratic Illinois congressmen who attended Saturday's event in Warrenville hosted by the DuPage chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Bill Foster of Naperville and Sean Casten of Downers Grove also spoke at the event.
"There is an all-out assault on our right to vote," said NAACP DuPage chapter President Mike Childress. "The one place we're all equal is in that voting booth, but they don't want anyone speaking up for people in that booth."
Participants waved flags and decorated their vehicles with posters honoring Lewis, who died last year from cancer, as they drove from Warrenville to the DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton. Another "votercade" arrived at the county courthouse from Palatine.
Lewis was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington. He was also the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1965 when he organized a voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery. He and other marchers were notoriously attacked by Alabama State Police troopers on the Edmund Pettis Bridge near Selma. Lewis' skull was fractured in the attack.
He served in Congress as a representative from Georgia from 1987 until his death.