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Loudoun NAACP Leads March Against Voter Suppression In Leesburg

Patch logo Patch 2 days ago Mark Hand
a group of people holding a sign: Loudoun NAACP President Michelle Thomas, together with dozens of young people, led a "March to the Polls" event through Leesburg Saturday afternoon. © Mark Hand/Patch Loudoun NAACP President Michelle Thomas, together with dozens of young people, led a "March to the Polls" event through Leesburg Saturday afternoon.

LEESBURG, VA — Loudoun NAACP President Michelle Thomas, together with dozens of young people, led a march through Leesburg Saturday afternoon urging residents to vote in the Nov. 3 election. The march finished at the Loudoun County elections office, which was open Saturday for early in-person absentee voting.

The March to the Polls event, sponsored by the Loudoun branch of the NAACP, attracted nearly 200 people. At the end of the march, speakers stressed the importance of voting in the next two weeks, along with getting involved in activism for change.

Thomas told the crowd at a post-march rally that African Americans have fought since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to keep the right to vote and to be free from voter suppression.

"The time is now to remove those leaders who won't meet with us because if leaders won't meet with us, they won't work for us," Thomas said.

Echoing the words of civil rights leader and long-time Congressman John Lewis, who died of cancer in July, Thomas said "the time is now to get into the good trouble and become the change we need in this county."

Sean Perryman, president of the Fairfax County branch of the NAACP, came to Leesburg to join Thomas in urging Loudoun residents to vote in the upcoming election.

Perryman urged the crowd to push through any obstacles set up that make it harder to vote. "Right now, they're trying to stop us from voting," he said.

"When you see 11-hour lines, that is not a mistake," said Perryman, who officially announced Tuesday that he is running to be the next lieutenant governor of Virginia. "When you talk about felony disenfranchisement, that is not a mistake. It's by design. Because they don't want you to know how powerful you are. They don't want you to know how much power you have."

a group of people holding a sign: Sean Perryman, president of the Fairfax County NAACP and 2021 candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, speaks at a voting rights event Saturday in Leesburg. (Mark Hand/Patch) © Provided by Patch Sean Perryman, president of the Fairfax County NAACP and 2021 candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, speaks at a voting rights event Saturday in Leesburg. (Mark Hand/Patch)

Rachel Bunch, team president of the Loudoun County chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc., explained to both young and old people in the crowd the importance of voting. Founded in 1938 by African American mothers and headquartered in Washington, D.C., Jack and Jill aims to provide young people with constructive educational, cultural, civic, health, recreational and social programs.

In her speech, Bunch said that while suffragette leaders marched more than 100 years ago for women to get the right to vote, "we are marching to get people to use" those rights that women won with the passage of the 19th amendment. It took another 45 years, she added, for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to outlaw blatant discriminatory voting practices.

Bunch, 17, is taking an Advanced Placement government class in her high school this semester. "My teacher told me that he believes it is up to my generation to save American politics," she said. "I'm only 17. I can't even vote yet. ... And until the day that everyone my age can vote, we'll do our part in protesting and volunteering at the polls so that when we do vote, we can do our part for the country."

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