Rally to keep Voting Rights Act intact held in Birmingham - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Rally to keep Voting Rights Act intact held in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

By Alan Collins

The national leader of the Nation of Islam spoke on behalf of keeping the Voting Rights Act intact at Birmingham's historic Kelly Ingram Park on Friday.

Shelby County has challenged Section Five of the act, which calls for preclearance of any changes to voting laws. Attorneys for the Shelby County Commission contend the requirement is no longer needed due to advances in minority voting.

More than 200 people greeted and gave a enthusiastic welcome to the Minister Louis Farrakhan.

"Farrakhan, Farrakhan, Farrakhan," chanted through the park. Farrakhan, using the words of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said the Voting Rights Act should not be changed in any way.

"Laws passed for the Negroes' benefit are so widely unenforced that it's a mockery to call them laws," Farrakhan said.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case and is expected to rule at any time. Farrakhan told the crowd if Section Five is struck down, those opposed to the Voting Rights Act will gain an advantage.

"Would now be free to keep us going back and forth to court. Litigating, litigating and litigating. Hell with litigation," Farrakhan said

Among the crowd, a pair traveled from Etowah County to hear Farrakhan speak.

"I think it would be a detriment if the Supreme Court overturns that, especially since I'm an elected official. If we didn't have the right to vote, as the minister says, I wouldn't be an elected official," Carolyn Parker, an Etowah County Commissioner, said.

"Over the years, a lot of people sacrificed for our right to vote and to see it being challenged shouldn't even be up for consideration," Spencer Gray of Etowah County said.

Farrakhan addressed some of the criticism he received from the Birmingham Jewish Federation for coming to Birmingham.

"To call me a hater in the face of Alabama hatred. I didn't segregate black children. I didn't tell black people you can be buried here," Farrakhan said.

Farrakhan is expected to make stops speaking in favor of the voting rights act in Shelby County, Selma and later this afternoon in Montgomery.

Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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