Activists march in Washington, D.C., in support of voting rights on MLK Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – A large group of protesters gathered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Washington, D.C., to honor the late civil rights leader with a march to call on Congress to pass voting rights measures that are stalled in the Senate.

The march began at the Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge and made its way to the Ambassador Baptist Church as demonstrators called for the passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

“Voting rights are important for all of us,” said James Williams, former chief of staff for John Lewis. “If they come after the voting rights of African Americans, they’re going to come for the voting rights of whoever they want.  It’s like Angela Davis once said: ‘If they come for me in the morning, they’ll come for you at night.’  The right to vote is precious.  It’s almost sacred.  And if we don’t have the right to vote, we have the right for nothing else in this democracy.  So that’s why I’m here.  I’m not here for myself.  I’m here for my grandchildren.  I’m here for my great-grandchildren.  I’m here for you, young fella, so that you can exercise that right to vote. That’s why I’m here.”

The bill has passed the House but not the Senate, where Republicans are also using the filibuster to keep the bill in check. Also, some Democrats are concerned about changing filibuster rules to force the bill through, thereby setting an uncertain precedent. That said, the people in Monday’s crowd are not giving up the fight for voter rights.

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