Voter rights group comes to Nashville

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Posted at 8:06 AM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 10:04:13-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A voting rights group arrived in Nashville on a bus mirroring civil rights era themes.

The Freedom Bus arrived at around 2 p.m. Sunday at the corner of Rosa L. Parks Boulevard and Charlotte Avenue. At First Baptist Church Capitol Hill, the group Black Votes Matter registered voters and welcomed the Freedom Bus to Nashville.

People with the group said Music City was instrumental in the Civil Rights Era for change. Especially, with regards to people participating in sit-ins.

"Nashville was one of the original areas where the freedom riders received their training before they went to launch out into their campaign to raise awareness about voting rights," said Timothy Hughes, State Coordinator for Black Voters Matter. "In addition to fighting for voting rights, they were desegregating lunch counters, they were protesting and a number of elements that were going on 60 years ago that we see returning back in this time when we're really seeing people's voting rights under assault."

There were also some activists who were present during the original fight for voters rights. Gloria Mckissack is a retired educator and historian who participated in sit-ins when the original Freedom Rides were happening in the south east.

"Those buses were stopping at bus stations, trying to get off and integrate, have sit-ins in the bus stations. That was what was really going on. Or what they were attempting to do. They were testing the federal decision to desegregate interstate travel," said McKissack. She said the rides were eventually stopped because the groups often encountered violence on the roads.

"The buses were burned and people were badly beaten," she said.

Today's bus is riding throughout the Southeast, as well. However, their focus is on voting laws passed in numerous states restricting absentee or mail-in ballots. Also, the group had a focus on new voter ID laws being discussed across the country.

"There are continuing fights that are happening today around voting rights that we really need to plug in and engage with," said Hughes.