Civil Rights Re-enactment March receives permit

Published 11:31 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

Organizers of a civil rights re-enactment march gushed and posed for pictures at the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors Thursday meeting after being presented with the Virginia Department of Transportation permit allowing the event.

The Saturday, Aug. 13, re-enactment is to commemorate the historic Voting Rights March of 1965 to the Lunenburg Courthouse that occurred over 50 years ago.

“I am humbled and honored to stand here tonight on behalf of the Voters Rights Re-enactment Committee (VRRC) thanking you for your approval of our event,” said Wanda Morrison, one of the committee members.

“Because of all of your support other individuals and organizations in the county and outside of our county have pledged additional support. We sincerely thank you for your interest in this event.”

Besides the supervisors, the Kenbridge and Victoria town councils, Lunenburg Sheriff’s Office, state police, VDOT, county school system, county emergency services and others agencies and organizations have given support and provided additional approvals allowing the march.

But supporters note that the county’s support has been instrumental. The schedule for the day of the march is posted on the county’s website.

County Administrator Tracy M. Gee completed the VDOT permit application on behalf of the committee, and Supervisor Edward Pennington praised her assistance. Pennington is one of the supporters of the re-enactment and was a participant in the original march as a youth.

On Aug. 3, 1965, about 300 demonstrators — many children — marched to the Lunenburg County Courthouse. The march was in support of the impending passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act — which was signed into law on Aug. 6 that year — and to protest the existence of the Poll Tax, according to the county’s website.

The march was also intended to protest inadequate voter registration hours, but on July 31, just days earlier, the county’s electoral board decided to grant adequate hours for voter registration.

In turn, grateful demonstrators used the march to express appreciation to the board for its decision.

That march began at First Baptist Church on Lunenburg Avenue in Victoria, and continued to the courthouse where the marchers lined the streets for a short time before continuing to nearby Tussekiah Baptist Church to end the demonstration with song and prayer.

A resolution recognizing the civil rights efforts of Nathaniel Hawthorne will also be read on the steps of the courthouse as part of the re-enactment.

“Martin Luther King said it best: ‘There is no noise as powerful as the sound of the marching feet of a determined people,’” Morrison said in her comments to the supervisors.

“I hope the sound of our marching feet on Aug. 13, 2016 will regenerate in Lunenburg County what success, support, community and determination is about. We as a community must support the initiatives of each other. With this initiative I hope all will see the part this small county of Lunenburg played in the civil rights movement that allows us to say we are historic as a county and community.”