Louis Farrakhan, Voting Rights Act supporters to rally in Columbiana on June 14

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is expected to join supporters of the Voting Rights Act in a rally outside the Shelby County Courthouse on the morning of June 14.

State Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, of the National Coalition of Leaders to Save Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act said the organization has planned a series of rallies throughout the state on Friday in advance of U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Shelby County v. Holder, in which the county questions the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

“We’re hoping to bring attention to Alabama and America that Section 5 is still relevant in this state,” Singleton said.

The caravan is expected to begin at the Birmingham Airport around 8:30-9 a.m. with stops at the Shelby County Courthouse around 10:30 a.m., Selma around noon and the Capital in Montgomery around 4 p.m. Singleton said the Shelby County stop will last about 30-45 minutes.

Farrakhan is expected to speak at the rallies. Other speakers include Singleton, State Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma and former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford.

Singleton is not on the logistics committee for the caravan, and said it’s possible the scheduled speakers will not attend or speak at each rally.

Shelby County Attorney Frank “Butch” Ellis said he expects a ruling on Shelby County v. Holder “sometime before the end of June.”

The county originally filed the suit April 27, 2010. The county’s challenge concerned sections 4(b) and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which forbid cities and towns in 16 states, including Alabama, from making any changes in voting practices or procedures without approval from the federal government.

The Voting Rights Act was established in 1964 to combat discriminatory voting practices, and U.S. Congress has renewed the act twice, most recently in 2006 for 25 additional years.