The Delaware County Democratic Party is hosting a local event on Saturday to take part in “Good Trouble” vigils happening across the country to honor late civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis and call for the passage of several key voting rights bills.
The Democratic Party, Indivisible, Delaware Community Center and Unity Community Center are hosting the vigil Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Delaware County Historic Courthouse, 91 N. Sandusky St. in Delaware. The party said the event will commemorate Lewis’ contributions with music, speeches, and calls for elected officials to pass several voting rights bills. The event will conclude with a shared candle-lighting ceremony.
The party reports speakers will include Rev. Joel King, first cousin of Martin Luther King Jr.; Andre Washington, NAACP Ohio treasurer and vice chair of the Ohio Democratic Party; and Peg Watkins, the chair of the Delaware County Democratic Party.
“Rep. John Lewis was brutalized as a young man for his work on voting rights for Black Americans,” the party said in a press release. “He rose to become a prominent member of U.S. Congress. He died on July 17, 2020 and wasn’t able to live to see the voting reform bills he fought to pass succeed. To honor his legacy, this vigil will focus on calling our state and federal leaders to support our right to vote and pass important legislation.”
The party reported the legislation it is lending its support to is the “For the People Voting Rights Act” (S1) which would expand voting rights, change finance laws, limit gerrymandering, and create new rules for officeholders; the “John Lewis Voting Right Act” (HR4) which would restore and strengthen parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and HR51, which would grant Washington D.C. statehood.
Watkins said the event is also to raise awareness of Ohio House Bill 294, which the party said would put limitations on Ohioans’ voting rights.
“We have a great board of elections and people vote here,” Watkins said. “John Lewis has a lot of fans here. We wanted to recognize his contribution to the country, especially for voting rights. It connects with the Ohio legislation that’s been proposed that is completely unnecessary after we had one of the most successful elections and voter fraud is less than 1% of what happened. Why change something that’s not broken. It’s a way to get the public out to be unified on an issue that we all relate to.”
Watkins said she’s excited to have King at the event, which is open to anyone who would like to attend.
“We want everyone to feel welcome to come,” she said. “(I want people to know) there are more like-minded people in our community than people may think at times. It gets discouraging when we hear noise … from people who are fearful of diversity. There’s no reason to be fearful of diversity, and inclusion is good for everybody. It’s a good way to make connections to people who are supportive of the same kind of values.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.