A colorful sea of umbrellas made its way down West Trade Street Sunday as nearly 100 Charlotteans of all ages, races and religious faiths came together in the cold rain for a silent march to commemorate "Bloody Sunday," a day in which citizens marching for their right to vote were beaten and gassed in Alabama, en route from Selma Montgomery, in 1965.
As the Trade Street march ended at the federal courthouse, a group of Charlotte religious leaders spoke about how today, 48 years later, voting rights are still in jeopardy.
Rev. Rodney Sadler of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church compared "ultra conservatives "of today with the KKK because of their efforts to suppress the votes of minorities through voter disenfranchisement.
"The right to vote is not a constitutional right, it's a God-given right," Sadler said.
The diverse group of speakers also included Imam Khalil Akbar of Masjid Ash Shaheed, Rabbi Jonathan Freirich of Temple Beth El, Father Patrick Earl of St. Peter Church, Rev. Christy Snow of the Spiritual Living Center of Charlotte, Maria Hanlin of Mecklenburg Ministries and James Pitts of Charlotte's Baha'i community.
Many vowed to work against voter suppression tactics.
"When people in this state want to suppress the right to vote, we're here to say we're still paying attention," said Pastor Jay Leach of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte.
Reverend Dr. Peter Wherry concluded the event with a moving prayer.
"We've been marching a long time - through Jerusalem, through Jim Crow, and we continue to march today though the rains may fall."
Look for more coverage of the event in the April 4 edition of Creative Loafing.