09/29/2015 05:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

NAACP Journey for Justice Will Advance Voting Rights


The Journey for Justice to strengthen voting rights started at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, AL

We live in interesting times.

Two years ago, immigrant leaders from across the country camped out on
the National Mall in the Fast for
Families to
inspire a hunger strike, witnessed and supported by me
and other Gamaliel faith leaders from Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic,
Jewish and other traditions.

Last fall, our leaders headed to Nevada to hear President Obama
announce executive action for immigration reform and extension of
deferred action for our Dreamer young people (sadly still on hold due
to pending lawsuit).

This week, leaders are making a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. and
for the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S.,which millions have rightly seen as an
opportunity to speak up for economic and social justice.

Our movements sometimes shift too quickly from one issue or action to
another. That's why I don't want to lose the moment to congratulate the
NAACP on the conclusion last week of their Journey for Justice march
from Selma to Washington, D.C. to celebrate and reinforce the Voting Rights Act on its 50th birthday.

I was there for some of the march, and proud to advocate for the Voting
Rights Advancement Act of 2015

One of the most exciting elements of the day in Washington on the final
day of the Journey for Justice was how many different movement leaders
came together for Voting Rights. A Greenpeace organizer, Rachel
Rye Butler,
wrote about the Journey for Justice:

Amazing. That's really the only word
that encompasses how I'm feeling after this week's #RestoreTheVRA rally
on Congress's lawn....  It's essential that we bridge the divide
between our issues and, more importantly, take back our democracy from
the corporate influence that's holding back all kinds of progressive

Say it sister! Whether it is seeking to deport people whose massive
contributions help make the United States rich, or keeping people of
color from getting to the polls, structural racism is the common theme
that runs through our work.

As an organizer I know it wasn't easy to pull off a 1,000-mile march.
And it was tragic that one of the marchers, Middle Passage, from
Pueblo, CO
, passed
away of a heart attack en route. With all of its highs and lows,
the march was an uplifting reminder that the work that led to the first
Voting Rights Act is not yet done, and it's our job to keep marching

Connecting our movements and working together, we will make these times
more than interesting; we will make them times of change. And we can
carry on the work to end structural racism together -- whether we are
working on immigration reform or voting rights, the environment or
employment. Because in the end, they are all connected--and we deserve
a spot at the table debating the issues that affect us, no matter what
they are.