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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joins march for Voting Rights Act

The NAACP march began on August 1

Washington CNN —  

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders appeared at the America’s Journey for Justice rally at the Lincoln Memorial Tuesday.

The rally was the climax of a 1,000-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, calling on Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

“Unless we enact reform that provides easy access for all voters, we will continue to miss 30 million voters from working families. If we don’t root out big money in politics, the oligarchy of the wealthy will increasingly control our government,” wrote Larry Cohen, former president of the Communication Workers of America and a Sanders’ adviser, on the campaign website.

“Voting rights, and the other three issue areas on the Journey for Justice platform, provide a good basis for this discussion as the presidential race heats up,” Cohen wrote.

Sanders spent the past weekend campaigning in the Carolinas, confronting a major challenge of his campaign: introducing himself to black voters. Though Sanders has had several speeches interrupted by Black Lives Matter protestors, he has since gained an endorsement from author and professor Cornel West.

He appeared at Benedict College, a historically black college and a frequent campaign stop for any presidential candidate courting black voters, Saturday morning.

“Racism remains alive today, and our goal together must be to end all forms of institutional racism and make major reforms in our criminal justice system,” he said Saturday. On Monday at Liberty University, he also highlighted the need to erase institutional racism during an exchange with reporters.

Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has also championed expanding voting rights.

Clinton told an audience at the historically black Texas Southern University in June that she supports the concept of signing every American up to vote as soon as they’re eligible at age 18, unless they specifically opt out. She called for expanded access to polling places, keeping them open for at least 20 days and offering voting hours on evenings and weekends.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington’s non-voting delegate, tweeted a photo of her holding a NAACP banner with Sanders and North Carolina Rep. G. K. Butterfield at the rally. The NAACP was one of the event organizers.

“We march today as our predecessors marched fifty years ago as an affirmation of our hope and a firm belief that our efforts will bring about change,” said Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, in a statement. “We will not make progress in this journey for justice until all Americans share the same equity and fairness under the laws that govern our country.”

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine was there as was Congress’ Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn.

The march also seeks to draw attention to criminal justice reform, employment issues and improving public education. And participants plan to ask Congress Wednesday to re-enact voting rights and support legislation from the three other issue groups.