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Black Voters Matter, a national organization dedicated to expanding Black voter engagement, is taking its bus tour to the South for Juneteenth, according to an announcement on Friday.

As states like Florida and Texas continue to uphold laws criticized as suppressing the voting power of Black citizens and other people of color, Black Voters Matter (BVM) is taking its We Won’t Back Down tour to the South, with stops in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina between Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 24.

Partnering with 50 local organizations nationwide, BVM is set to host block parties, documentary film screenings, voter rallies and food pantries during Juneteenth weekend.

“Juneteenth is an opportunity for Black communities to celebrate our progress towards freedom as much as it is a reminder for us to protect what we’ve won, and fight for what’s still owed,” BVM co-founder and executive director Cliff Albright stated.

Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, talks about expanding voting rights at the John Lewis Advancement Act Day of Action, a voter education and engagement event, Saturday, May 8, 2021, at King’s Canvas in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

The continuation of the 14-state bus tour with a focus on Southern states comes after Texas and Florida have led the push to increase restrictions on voting access.

Yet it also comes after the United States Supreme Court handed down a surprising victory for Black voters when it ruled that Alabama’s gerrymandered maps violate the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. With Black voters expected to gain a second Black-majority district in Alabama, other states with similar percentages of Black residents, like Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina, may also be required to do the same.

Black Voters Matter continues movement to expand Black political power

Formed as a response to the racist rhetoric from then-President Donald Trump in 2016, co-founders Latosha Brown and Cliff Albright established Black Voters Matter to build Black political power in communities large and small.

Following the police lynching of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Black Voters Matter was flooded with donations and became an ecosystem of support for grassroots groups getting out the vote.

According to the Associated Press, BVM was credited with contributing to the turnout in Georgia that resulted in the U.S. Senate-flipping victories of Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA), along with Georgia turning blue for Joe Biden in 2020.

The Juneteenth bus tour seeks to build on that momentum and clap-back against laws passed that effectively reduce voter participation.

The Black Voters Matter bus leads a “votercade” — a motorcade of voters — across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Selma, Ala. The group was moving between events in the John Lewis Advancement Act Day of Action, a voter education and engagement event held in Selma and Montgomery. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Laws passed that place restrictions on mail-in voting, the number of accessible polling places and even the ability to distribute water and food to people waiting in line, have all been blasted by civil rights organizations as voter suppression tactics aimed at responding to the increasing power of Black voters.

“We are not free until all of us are free, and right now states are passing racist and discriminatory laws that seek to oppress our communities, and we will not stand for it,” Albright said.

Juneteenth tour: Dates and locations

Reigniting the spirit of the famous freedom rides, who risked life and limb to register voters across the South during the violent era of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, Black Voters Matter is heading to six states in the South beginning on Friday.

  • Texas: Friday, June 16 to Monday, June 19, with stops in Fort Worth, Dallas and Galveston.
  • Florida: Sunday, June 18 to Saturday, June 24, with stops in Gainesville, Ocala, Leesburg, Miami, West Palm Beach and Daytona Beach.
  • Louisiana: Stops in New Orleans during Juneteenth weekend.
  • South Carolina: Stops in Mullins on Friday, June 16.
  • Alabama: Stops in Selma, Tuscaloosa and Carrollton from Saturday, June 17 to Monday, June 19.
  • Georgia: A statewide bus tour from Friday, June 16 to Monday June 19.

To view the full schedule of events and learn more about the We Won’t Black Down campaign, visit the Black Voters Matter website

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...