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Dayton-area leaders and organizations rally for voting rights

By Chanda Hunter

Dayton-area leaders and organizations are lending their voices and platforms in support of voting rights. They participated in the March On For Voting Rights Rally at Grace United Methodist Church this past Saturday.

The rally was organized by Dayton's Beta Xi Sigma chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. Speakers during the event included Dayton City Commissioners Jeffrey Mims Jr. and Darryl Fairchild, Montgomery County Recorder Brandon McClain and Dayton Unit NAACP president Derrick Foward.

The speakers delivered impassioned remarks to the crowd.

“We need to march in Dayton for a couple reasons," said Justen Seay, president of the Beta Xi Sigma chapter. "Number one, not only because of potential voting suppression legislation that's sitting in the Ohio State House right now. Also because of the situation that we're dealing with gerrymandering and redistricting [in Congress]."

“The NAACP has been advocating for voting rights for 112 years nationally and 106 years here locally," said Foward. "As the president of the NAACP or any American citizen, you need to understand that people died so that the right to vote could be obtained. We as Americans need to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access the ballot box to cast his or her vote because, as you see, we are in a nation of turmoil unless we can get access to that ballot box.”

Mims wanted attendees to understand a broad scope of how voting impacts their everyday lives.

“When you look at the ballet box, understand the history of those people in terms of what they’ve done," he said. "Understand how those things are going to affect you first, your livelihood; Second, your family; Third, and fourth, your community. That is why you vote.”

McClain highlighted some specific changes in redistricting he wanted to see to ensure fair electoral maps.

“Currently right now, we are going through redistricting," he said. "This is very important because this gives us an opportunity for not just fair and competitive districts, but districts that represent all facets, corners and people in a set of communities."

McClain also noted the importance of redistricting as a process to ensure that voters select their representatives instead of representatives selecting their voters.

The March On For Voting Rights Rally was held on the 58th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. Dozens of rallies were held across the nation the same day calling for sweeping voting rights protections at the local, state and federal level.

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