Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Modern ‘Freedom Riders’ Advocate For Voting Rights

Cole leading prayer
Del. Joshua Cole, a reverend, leads the crowd in prayer. (Photo: Patrick Larsen/VPM News)

Sixty years since the Freedom Riders came to Richmond to fight ongoing, federally unlawful segregation, a new group has returned under the same name. 

The Freedom Ride for Voting Rights, organized by LaTosha Brown and Cliff Albright, stopped in the city on Friday to speak out to connect with local voters through food and music and speak out against voter suppression.

The 2021 Ride has campaigned through southern states for the past week and is headed to Washington D.C. tonight.

Fredericksburg Delegate Reverend Joshua Cole led hundreds gathered at Monroe Park in prayer : “As long as you hold back the voices of people of color and Black folks, you are on notice. As long as you push down voter suppression laws, you are on notice.”

Jonathan Davis, president of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, was in attendance to register people to vote and join in on the fun. 

“We’re still fighting for voting rights in 2021,” Davis said, drawing a connection between the struggle to get voters access to polls and the struggle to have equality enforced in the 1960s.

The Riders are spreading their message in response to dozens of state-level measures across the nation that they say limit the right to vote, particularly among people of color.

Republican lawmakers who support the bills say they’re taking a closer look at increased mail-in and early voting implemented during the pandemic. Many GOP lawmakers, including former President Donald Trump, disputed the outcome of the 2020 election, although election officials in his administration said it was the "most secure in American history."


Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.
Related Stories