People For the American Way

We The Young People Will Vote: Youth Activists and Civil Rights Leaders Demonstrate at White House

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We The Young People Will Vote: Youth Activists and Civil Rights Leaders Demonstrate at White House

On November 3, voting rights activists escalated demands for the White House to act on voting rights in an action that resulted in the arrests of close to 60 participants, including leading youth activist Yolanda King, the 13-year-old granddaughter of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Following a blocked vote on the Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate last month, activists are mobilizing to protect our democracy and right to vote without fear of discrimination. This week’s demonstration highlighted the power of youth activists and was led by People For the American Way, the League of Women Voters of the United States, and the Declaration for American Democracy, alongside dozens of democracy coalition partners. Participants called on President Biden to use the influence of his office to get the Freedom to Vote Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC statehood passed in the Senate.

A group of youth activists and civil rights leaders at the start of the march to the White House to demonstrate for voting rights on November 3, 2021. A group of youth activists and civil rights leaders at the start of the march to the White House to demonstrate for voting rights on November 3, 2021.

Danton Whitley and members of the Baltimore Urban Inspiration Choir again performed at the event lifting up the crowd with chants, including: “When we’re walking in the footsteps of the ancestors, we gotta walk strong and walk in song!”

Danton Whitley and members of the Baltimore Urban Inspiration Choir again performed at the event lifting up the crowd with chants, including: "When we're walking in the footsteps of the ancestors, we gotta walk strong and walk in song!"

Shortly before the event, People For the American Way President Ben Jealous spoke about why he was proud to be risking arrest alongside young people, including his 15-year-old daughter Morgan.

This week, Martin Luther King, III, Arndrea Waters King, and 13-year-old Yolanda Renee King protested and risked arrest alongside us; they all spoke of their family’s legacy in the fight for voting rights and why they will continue on in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s footsteps.

Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s granddaughter, speaks alongside her parents - Martin Luther King, III and Arndrea Waters King - at a voting rights protest in front of the White House on November 3, 2021. Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s granddaughter, speaks alongside her parents - Martin Luther King, III and Arndrea Waters King - at a voting rights protest in front of the White House on November 3, 2021.

Martin Luther King, III and Arndrea Waters King at a voting rights protest in front of the White House on November 3, 2021. Martin Luther King, III and Arndrea Waters King at a voting rights protest in front of the White House on November 3, 2021.

Soleil Moon Frye’s father was a civil rights activist also present at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and she was thrilled to accompany her two daughters, Poet and Jagger, to risk arrest for voting rights.

“We as young people are still fighting for the same thing that was fought for 58 years ago,” said Jamal Holtz from 51 for 51 during the event.

“The most important thing today is that the youth standing to the left of me are taking charge. We are demanding a better future for the ones coming behind us,” said DC Youth Mayor Addison Rose.

“We’re not here to ask for justice. We’re not here to negotiate our voting rights. We’re here to demand voting rights be passed,” said Tylik McMillan from the National Action Network.

People For President Ben Jealous speaks at a voting rights protest in front of the White House on November 3, 2021. A voting rights protest in front of the White House on November 3, 2021.A voting rights protest in front of the White House on November 3, 2021.A voting rights protest in front of the White House on November 3, 2021.

Eventually, six young people under the age of 18 were led away from the scene by police as part of the arrests, alongside another 14 people under the age of 25.

You can watch all of the testimonial videos here 

You can watch the full event here:

On the Young Turks, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner was joined by People For  President Ben Jealous and Martin Luther King Jr’s family, including son Martin Luther King III, his wife Arndrea Waters King, and their daughter Yolanda Renee King, to discuss the importance of activism in the fight for voting rights for all Americans.

Want to get involved in the next stage of the fight? Sign up here to receive updates on the campaign and RSVP for our event on November 17 here!

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