LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Community leaders from around the Las Vegas valley gathered to honor Congressman John Lewis, his work and get the message out that there is still so much work to be done. This comes on the one-year anniversary of the death of the Civil Rights icon.
“Today we are here to make a statement — a long-overdue statement that we must have equal rights for everyone especially here in this state,” said Leonard Jackson with Faith Organizing Alliance.
Lewis spent almost his entire life as an advocate for equal voting rights and currently, activists are pushing Congress to pass federal legislation that would protect voting access for all, as there are several state-level laws that restrict voters.
“It’s about making sure that every voice is heard at the ballot box,” said Representative Steven Horsford. “Why are there groups that are working so hard to disenfranchise voters? Why are there groups that trying to suppress the rights for people to vote? It’s because they know that when you vote, there’s power!”
In 1965, Lewis was beaten by police as he marched for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Still, he kept fighting and ultimately the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting.
“Since his days in Selma, he worked hard for making sure that every American had a chance to exercise their rights and now we are carrying on his legacy with those bills that are waiting on the Senate to act,” said Guillermo Barahona with Chispa Nevada — a Latino organization for voting and environmental rights.
Towards the end of the speeches, a candlelight vigil was held in Lewis’ honor, and the message was clear, fighting for equal voting rights for all is a daily commitment.
“It’s not just during election season, but it’s days like today,” said Barahona. “Days to act and remember that this is a 365-day process of staying active with our community and making sure they hold their elected officials accountable.”
Other than Horsford, Congresswoman Dina Titus was also in attendance along with state Assemblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong.