Voting rights activists flock to Washington DC to march for federal election reforms

People gather for ‘March on Voting Rights’ in DC from across the country

People from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., on Saturday morning for the ‘March on Voting Rights’ on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Thousands of activists are marching in Washington D.C. Saturday for a pair of rallies to demand federal voting rights protections and a wide range of civil rights reforms.

The marches coincide with the 58th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech at the National Mall. Organizers are pressing for the Democratic-led Congress and White House to enact bold, sweeping election reforms they say are needed in the face of voter suppression efforts in places like Texas and Florida. 

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28:  Voting rights activists participate in a pre-march rally during a March On For Voting Rights event at McPherson Square August 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists gathered in Washington to mark the 58th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, and urged the Senate to pass voting rights legislations.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“We are marching to protect our power, to protect our voice, to protect our voting rights!,” tweeted Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights leader.

The “March On for Washington and Voting Rights” on the National Mall is organized by King’s group, the Drum Major Institute, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other voting rights organizations. 

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28:  Voting rights activist Regina Cosio of Syracuse, New York, dresses as "Ms. Liberty" as she participates in a pre-march rally during a March On For Voting Rights event at McPherson Square August 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists gathered in Washington to mark the 58th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, and urged the Senate to pass voting rights legislations.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

They are calling for the passage of Democrats’ sweeping election reform plans – the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and making Washington D.C. the 51st state. All three of those initiatives passed the House this year, but face an uphill climb in the Senate where 60 votes are needed and Democrats control just 50 seats. 

Organizers for the “Make Good Trouble Rally” at the Lincoln Memorial are demanding much more than voting reforms and D.C. statehood. Their calls for action also include progressive priorities of ending the Senate filibuster, passing slavery reparations, raising the minimum wage to $15, canceling student debt, ending gun violence, legalizing undocumented immigrants and reversing climate change. 

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28:  Voting rights activists participate in a pre-march rally during a March On For Voting Rights event at McPherson Square August 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists gathered in Washington to mark the 58th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, and urged the Senate to pass voting rights legislations.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Chants in the crowd include “Black Lives Matter” and “Trans Lives Matter.” 

Both rallies have a steady lineup of speakers throughout the day, including members of congress, family members of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and George Floyd, who was killed by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020.  

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests that summer and demands for racial justice, policing accountability and defunding the police.

Fox News’ Liz Friden contributed to this report. 

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