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Voting Rights discussion held at Historic Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church

The Legal Defense Fund held a voting rights panel and discussion over the weekend at Historic Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church.

A capacity crowd listened to a panel of six as they discussed restoring the Voting Rights Act and voting rights in the age of mass incarceration.

The six-person panel consisted of Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President and CEO Vanita Gupta, University of Alabama Law Professor and Northern District Attorney of Alabama U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund Deputy Director of Litigation Leah Aden, The Guardian reporter Sam Levine, advocate Terrance Lewis and plaintiff Raquel Wright.

The panel urged local residents to make their votes count, especially in the city and county elections.

U.S. Rep Terri Sewell, D-AL, said she will continue to fight to bring back the Voting Rights Act.

“I’m happy that so many people came back to re-dedicate themselves for the right to vote,” Sewell said. “The democrats need to take back the Senate and elect a Democrat president to restore the Voting Rights Act.”

NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill delivered an emotional tribute to U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-GA, a civil rights icon who’s currently battling pancreatic cancer.

“Lewis’ presence should be with us,” Ifill said. “Lewis had a lifetime of service to this country and sacrificed himself.”

Rev. Dr. William Barber II, Pastor and Social Justice Advocate at Greenleaf Christian Church and Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, encouraged residents to fight for the right to vote.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appeared at the Unity reception and spoke with Brown Chapel Pastor Leodis Strong. Bottoms said she appreciated the sacrifices made for African-Americans to vote in 1965.

“As an African-American elected official, I think we’re all here because of Selma,” Bottoms said. “It would be a disservice if people stayed home and [didn’t] vote on Election day.”