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Musicians play djembe drums during a stop on the Freedom Ride For Voting Rights at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. June 21, 2021. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers
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Freedom Riders are back, and they’re demanding voting rights for Black citizens. Nearly 60 years after the original group of Freedom Riders protested for integration in the South, the new Freedom Rider group is targeting voter suppression tactics.

Organized through the Black Voters Matter movement started by Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown, two contemporary voting rights activists in the same vein as Stacy Abrams, Freedom Riders are once again fighting for civil rights. “I am hoping that we will see the same kind of tenacity, commitment and passion around protecting the civil rights of Black voters as we’ve seen with other policies,” Ms. Brown said in an interview on Monday. 

Arriving on buses with the phrase “Freedom Ride: The Fight Continues,” Freedom Riders are demanding that President Joe Biden protect the right to vote for Black citizens across the country. Starting on Juneteenth in Jackson, Mississippi, the new Freedom Riders are en route to Washington D.C., for their cause. 

First stop: Jackson, Miss.

It’s a movement that needs attention now, as Republicans across the country have put forth restriction after restriction on voting rights, particularly for Black citizens, most of whom already face obstacles to fighting disenfranchisement.

Angela Turner Ford, a Black state Senator from Mississippi, recently railed against voter suppression tactics at the Freedom Riders opening stop in Jackson. 

“People are sitting quietly in their rooms; they are trying to scheme and devise laws that will further restrict our rights to vote, and that happened in this past legislative session. Bills were filed to try to strip and purge the voter roll, just because people have not participated in a series of elections, and that we cannot stand for.” Like Ms. Brown and Mr. Albright, Senator Ford is another voting rights champion, and chairwoman of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus.  

Activists push Executive Branch to fight harder

The Freedom Riders insist that President Biden do more than talk about protecting the right of citizens to vote. “There’s more that we think the White House could do,” said Mr. Albright in an interview about voting rights for Black citizens. 

Meanwhile, President Biden has placed Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian American Vice President of the United States, in the role of fighting the GOP-backed voter restriction bills. What President Biden himself plans to do about voting rights as head of the executive branch of the government remains to be seen.

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...