To mark the anniversary of Congressman John Lewis’ passing, CAG, Protect Our Vote WV, and West Virginians for Democracy hosted candlelight vigils in both Charleston and Huntington on July 17th. The events were part of more than 150 vigils happening across the country to celebrate Congressman Lewis’ legacy and call on Congress to pass critical legislation to protect the freedom to vote, end gerrymandering, and continue the conversation on Lewis’ vision for democracy that works for everyone.
The Charleston event was held at the Booker T. Washington monument on the Capitol grounds and incorporated readings of John Lewis’ NYT op-ed and songs. Multiple local groups were represented with a wide range of speakers. These included NAACP Charleston Branch president, Rev. Ronald English; CWA International Staff Rep & VP, Elaine Harris; ACLU Advocacy Specialist, Dijon Stokes; former WV Secretary of State, Natalie Tennant; and State Senator Lindsay (D-Kanawha). Also involved were reps from the WV Center on Budget & Policy, Young WV Forward, and testimonials from impacted community members. The fabulous Katonya Hart, 3rd VP of the WV NAACP and President of Call to Action for Racial Equality served as our emcee. We also heard testimonials from Crystal Allen and Greg Whittington about the importance of voting rights restoration for those with prior criminal convictions.
The Huntington Vigil had a great turnout as well. Hosted at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, speakers included Jennifer Wells, Senior Organizer for Community Change; David Wells, Branch President of the Huntington-Cabell NAACP; and Dr. Candace Duty, Elder of FCUCC.