A four-day, 27 mile trek from Georgetown to Austin, Texas concluded yesterday with a rally at the Texas State Capitol. The Georgetown-to-Austin Moral March for Democracy was organized by the Poor People’s Campaign as part of the organization’s season of nonviolent moral direct action.
Their message and demands to Congress are clear: end the filibuster, pass all provisions of the For the People Act, restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act, raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hr and create permanent protections for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Marchers — including the Reverend Jesse Jackson and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke — carried signs and chanted in protest the same aforementioned demands throughout their trip to the State Capitol in Austin. The demonstration was inspired by the 1965 54-mile Selma-to-Montgomery March that was influential in the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act.
This march, however, was a direct response to Senate inaction towards the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Republican-led push to pass restrictive voting laws in states throughout the country. Texas lawmakers are currently in the midst of a power struggle surrounding one of the most contentious voting rights bills. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 18 states have enacted laws restricting voting access in 2021.
In Austin, thousands of people gathered at the Capitol for the rally, NBC News reported. Close to a dozen organizers, thought leaders and other speakers ignited the crowd with powerful inspiring messages. “There are people from every single part of this state who chose to be here right now to stand up and be counted at this moment for our state, for our country, for democracy,” said O’Rourke. “Are we going to fight for the right to vote? Yes. Are we going to give up until we get it? No. We’re gonna push through. We’re gonna push through until we win this.”
“We’re seeing the greatest attack on voting rights since the end of the civil war and this must change now!” Barber said. “The answer to the problem must meet the challenge…We are gathered in Austin today because the voter suppression efforts being carried out in this statehouse are not just about Texas. They’re not just about Black folk, they’re about poor voters, women voters, rural voters, urban voters… This is why we take moral action now because the infrastructure of this democracy is being threatened now.”
The rally concluded with a musical performance from country music star Willie Nelson. Rev. Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign plan to end their Moral Monday initiative tomorrow (August 2) in D.C., where they will demand voting rights protection and fair living wages.