KFTC Blog

Voting Rights Rally Recap!

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on March 2, 2015
Attendees gather for the closing prayer. Special thanks to Steve Pavey for taking this photo.

Last Thursday nearly 200 people gathered in the rotunda to share prayer, cheers, stories of triumph, and a call for the General Assembly to do one simple thing: "Let Us Vote".

The day began with scheduled meetings with members of the State Senate beginning as early as 8:15 in the morning on the 2nd floor of the Capitol Annex. People traveled from as far away as Lynch, Kentucky to share their stories with legislators about why they believe Kentuckians deserve the right to vote. 100 people came to share their stories, talk about the value of democracy, and the need for the Commonwealth to practice forgiveness if we ever want to truly represent all of Kentuckians

As many people noted, it's not usual for 100 folks from around the state, with disparate backgrounds and little knowledge of each other, to come together into small teams, and share intimate personal stories of struggle with legislators. Yet, on days like this, it works. And even more importantly, it helps remind people why they came.

Tim Tice of Louisville, who is celebrating 19 years sobriety,  told his story for the first time to legislators while in Frankfort. He promised to definitely return.


After more than 20 meetings with legislators on the issue of House Bill 70, and similar legislation, members made way to a rally that featured a lot of dynamic speakers. The rally was emceed by Tayna Fogle of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and Mike Barry of People Advocating Recovery. They welcomed and warmed up the crowd, as other attendees performed a skit near the rotunda entrance, before opening the rally with a couple of powerful prayers from leading ministers from Lexington. They also recognized many in the crowd, and gave thanks to Senators Buford and Neal, and Representatives Owens and Hoover, each of whom filed a voting rights amendment this year.

Pastor Owens of Shiloh Baptist Church led the group in prayer, asking people to ask God to place, "Upon the hearts of our returning citizens, our brothers and sisters, [prayers for] courage to continue this struggle. Those legislators [who support voting rights], give them courage to continue. Those who continue to find creative ways to hijack and hold hostage this bill... Move by letting them know that we are not in this struggle alone. We're not afraid... We will stand... We will shout. And ask that there be liberty and justice for all until it is realilty."

Pastor Owens was followed by Reverend Watterson of Total Grace. His remarks observed the history of suffrage in the United States, reflecting that, "the evolution of the right to vote reveals an ugly truth about Americans' past. Only a privileged few had a voice. Even now, in 2015, that there is roughly about 6 million Americans who don't have the right to vote. Our vote is our voice. We stand here to declare we will not be silent unilt our voices are heard."

   

A welcomed addition to the rally was the performance of the Mt. Sinai Spirituals of Lynch, Kentucky. They performed several songs during the rally, providing a break from the line of speakers, and representing the southeastern corner of Kentucky. As those who have been involved in this work know, there is not a place in the commonwealth where people are not touched by this regressive practice in some way, and the presence of speakers from rural and urban areas helped serve to highlight this. 

   The rally also featured elected officials who are working on the right vote. Former Louisville Metro Councilmember Attica Scott reflected on working across the aisle to pass a unanimous resolution supporting restoration of voting rights during her time on Louisville Metro Council because another Kentucky is possible, and encouraged those in other local governments acorss the Commonwealth to pick up the work to do the same; Lexington Fayette Urban County Councilmember Chris Ford reflecting on the work he did to pass the 1st resolution from local governments in support of voting rights, which also passed unaninmously, in the value of supporting returning citizens; and  Senator Neal, primary sponsor for Senate Bill 70 [one of the 4 identical amendmetns filed to restore voting rights automatically to people who have served their time], stated that in order for these efforst to succeed, "The key to this is you. You have to keep coming and keep coming until what we call 'justice' prevails. Thank you for the work you've done historically. Thank you for being here today, and thank you for the energy that you've put into this issue. At some point, all of your efforts, all of your work,  it will prevail."

Secretary of State Grimes also spoke, telling the crowd that, "Justice is not given. It is up to each and every one of us to continue to fight."

   

Michael Hiser, the last former felon to speak at the rally, summed up the overall theme of the rally nicely by saying, "The Key the focus on us getting the right to vote. House bill 70 is a constitutional amendment. Two Senators have made the decision to take the right to vote away from all Kentuckians. I didn't come here today to fight for 'MY' right to vote; I came here today to fight for 'YOUR' right to vote!" This was followed by chants of "Let Us Vote" throughout the crowd.

Closing out the rally was Reverend Marian Taylor, the outgoing Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, who invited those remaining at the end of the rally to stand shoulder to shoulder, and led everyone in singing Siyahmba. This hymn, which closed out an amazing day for Kentuckians who care about fairness, equality, and democracy, was popularized as an important song in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

   

All who were in attendance know the battle for voting rights is not over this session. From the podim people were encouraged to continue to support House Bill 70 in a myriad of ways, and to join people at the next voting rights vigil on Tuesday, March 3.

Richard Young, a former felon from Elsmere who shared his personal story from the podium, afterwards remarked that at the rally he was surprised by the energy in dedication to the cause at the rally and lobby day. He had never before been a part of an event like this could change people's lives. When speaking of the day, he said, "This is what was meant to happen."

NOTE: Special thanks to Steve Pavey, who took the photos for this rally! You can visit his facebook albums on voting rights here and here

0 comments view comments

Voting Rights Rally: Ask Senate to Let Us Vote!

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on February 24, 2015

This Thursday (February 26th) members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and allies will be gathering

Citizens groups seek to ensure Kentucky officials enforce Clean Water Act (again!)

Posted by: KFTC staff on February 22, 2015

KFTC and several ally groups late Friday filed a motion to intervene in a state enforcement action against Frasure Creek Mining for violating the Clean Water Act at its coal mining operations in e

Want to know what KFTC did in 2014? Read our annual report

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 18, 2015

KFTC members had a big year in 2014, and you can revisit that work through the 2014 KFTC Annual Report. It's filled with KFTC faces and tells the story of our work last year. Click here to read it online.

Vision Smoketown

Posted by: KFTC staff on February 16, 2015

Vision Smoketown began as a volunteer-based community canvassing project conceived after the Jefferson County KFTC Chapter moved its office to Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood in July 2013. Members of the chapter’s Economic Justice Team were focusing their attention on local affordable housing issues. After moving to Smoketown, the team wanted to understand the desires and needs of Smoketown residents within the changing dynamics of Louisville.

Our health as Kentuckians is worth protecting!

Posted by: Sean Hardy on February 16, 2015

Sean Hardy is a member of the Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC's Air Quality Team. The following is the speech Sean gave at the 10th Annual I Love Mountains Day rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort. To learn more about the chapter's Air Quality Team click here or contact our Jefferson County chapter organizer Alicia Hurle at alicia@kftc.org or 502-589-3188. 

Hello, my name is Sean Hardy and I have been a proud KFTC member for the last 2 years. I also am a native of West Louisville, Kentucky. The West Louisville neighborhood is one that has provided both economic empowerment and home ownership to many African Americans throughout the years.

It is also home to a conglomeration of chemical plants aptly named “Rubbertown” – referencing its WWII ties as a rubber manufacturing company.

Stand Up Sunday – Stand Up Louisville

Posted by: SCZ, Stand Up Sundays on February 16, 2015

Where are we, Louisville? How is our local narrative fitting into larger regional, statewide and national social conditions?

Louisville, like the rest of the country, has become a place with a more visible and increased militarized police presence. Less than a year ago our local media in conjunction with with many elected officials and police, used an incident with young people downtown to funnel over $200,000 into more surveillance and policing of youth of color particularly along the Waterfront and new areas of “urban” development. Young people were framed as rioting and dangerous. The damaging effects of this increase in the policing of young people can be seen in the case of the Misidentified 4, where young men from our community were brutalized and whose families have been vocal about the need for a civilian review board.

Voting Rights prayer vigils held outside Senate offices

Posted by: Beth Howard on February 16, 2015

People of faith have a long tradition of standing together against injustice. There are many passages throughout spiritual texts calling for people of faith to work for justice and fight against oppression. Also, many social justice advocates have channeled their faith when leading social change movements.

During the 2015 General Assembly, KFTC members and fellow voting rights advocates are joining together in prayer, song and testimony to put pressure on Kentucky’s Senate leadership to pass a proposed constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to nearly a quarter million Kentuckians.

KFTC celebrates 10 years of I Love Mountains Day

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 13, 2015

“We are here to express our love for Kentucky and our belief in its bright future,” said KFTC Chairperson Dana Beasley Brown as she welcomed the crowd to KFTC’s tenth I Love Mountains Day.

Frigid winds and snow flurries couldn’t compete with New Power as hundreds of people from across Kentucky marched up Capital Avenue and rallied on the capitol steps for a brighter future for Kentucky.

Beasley Brown thanked KFTC members for “your vision, your courage and your persistence” and recognized the many communities across Kentucky who were represented in the crowd.

East Kentuckians send love and good advice to Frankfort for Valentine’s Day

Posted by: Tanya Turner on February 10, 2015

EKY legislative letter writingDuring this short 2015 Legislative Session, it can be difficult for many Kentuckians to make the trip to Frankfort and share their good sense with lawmakers. That’s why members of the Harlan, Letcher and Big Sandy KFTC chapters spent time this February writing to their senators, representatives and key leaders of both chambers. More than 50 cards, letters and postcards are on their way to more than two dozen lawmakers in Frankfort! Some were even hand delivered to House members during the Clean Energy Lobby Day late last week.

President proposes major new investments in Appalachian transition

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on February 2, 2015

The budget proposed by President Obama today calls for significant new investments in economic transition in Central Appalachia. The President's ideas for the region are being called the "Power + Plan." 

Among the highlights of the President's plan are the following:

  • $1 billion over five years to restore lands and waters degraded by decades-old mining and support related sustainable development projects.

  • $56 million to invest in job training for laid-off miners and to support economic development efforts in Central Appalachian mining communities. This figure includes an additional $20 million in job training for miners and power plant workers; an increase of $25 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission's annual budget, to be directed at "communities most impracted by coal economic transition"; $6 million more to the Department of Commerce for "place-based regional innovation efforts," including grants to economically distressed communities; and $5 million more for the EPA's brownfields program to help communities deal with the closure of coal-fired power plants.

  • $3.9 billion over 10 years to shore up health and retirement benefits for many retired miners.

Page

Subscribe to KFTC Blog