Picture: Selma Times Journal
A Mobile, Alabama man on a bicycle hauled a 100-pound casket across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Monday morning during the second leg of his bid to restore a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Jeffery Jones, 54, said the casket is symbolic of the “death” of the federal legislation that was passed 48 years ago to protect voting rights that had been hindered in some Southern states by white voter registrars.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in June, gutted “Section 5,” an important provision of the act that required pre-clearance by the Justice Department of any voting changes by those states.
Jeffery Jones of Mobile began his bicycle ride from Selma to Montgomery on Monday, hauling a casket as a civil rights symbol of ‘death.’ State Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, took a few steps with him. (Picture: Montgomery Advertiser)
Alabama voting rights activists plan to gathered at at the State Capitol in Montgomery to voice their concern over the high court’s ruling during a “restoration ceremony.”
In its ruling, the Supreme Court challenged Congress to come up with a replacement plan to protect minorities in areas where voter discrimination still persists.
“The Voting Rights Act is the most powerful piece of legislation in American history and now it is under attack,” said state Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma. “We are doing all we can to have it restored and this event in Montgomery is part of it.”
Sanders said he and other civil rights leaders are striving to have Congress designate Aug. 6 as National Voting Rights Day.
“It won’t be a holiday but it will be a way to bring attention to how important this day is because, without it, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama would not have been elected president,” he said.
Fliers distributed prior to Jones’ ride across the historic bridge described the event as a “funeral procession ceremony.” The fliers also linked the Supreme Court’s ruling with the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman, who was acquitted.
“Five (Supreme Court justices) killed the heart of our voting rights (and) Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon in the heart,” the flier stated.
Jones said he got the casket from a Mobile funeral home and altered it to make it easier for him to haul behind his bicycle.
Prior to crossing the historic bridge, Jones brought the casket from Marion to Selma to honor the memory of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a civil rights volunteer who was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper during a riot in February 1965.
By: Alvin Benn/Montgomery Advertiser