Missouri Faith & Voter Advocates Host Vigils Honoring Legacy of John Lewis and Calling on Congress to Affirm the Moral Imperative of the Right to Vote 

On Sat. July 17, 2021, Missouri advocates will host Good Trouble Vigils for Democracy on the one-year anniversary of the death of Rep. John Lewis – joining more than 100 similar vigils happening at the same time around the country – to uplift his legacy and call on Congress to pass critical legislation to realize Rep. Lewis’ vision for a democracy that includes us all. The Missouri Vigils are being spearheaded by faith leaders around the state to uplift the moral imperative of the right to vote in a moment when partisanship is blocking needed action to protect voting rights for all. 

The Missouri John Lewis “Good Trouble” Vigils For Democracy, organized by the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition in collaboration with numerous faith leaders and community partners, will be held in St. LouisKansas CityJefferson City and Springfield on the evening of Sat. July 17.
 
The St. Louis event will include prominent faith leaders in an outdoor vigil at First Unitarian Church followed by a processional with the renowned Red and Black Brass Band to Maryland Plaza in the Central West End, where advocates will sing, dance and engage fellow community members in the call for voting rights. Vigils in Kansas CityJefferson City and Springfield, lead by faith leaders, local voter advocates and the NAACP, will similarly feature local leaders calling on Congress to take needed action to protect the right to vote by passing the For the People Act – which the late Cong. Lewis authored – and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 
“Faith leaders have been critical to every historic movement for voting rights and are especially needed in this moment to call out the dignity of all to have a voice in their destinies,” said Denise Lieberman, a voting rights lawyer and Director of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. The July 17 actions come on the heels of this week’s call to action by the President for Congress to pass needed voting reforms. 

WHAT: ST LOUIS GOOD TROUBLE VIGIL FOR DEMOCRACY
WHO:    Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Central Reform Congregation, Missouri Faith Voices, Metropolitan Congregations United, First Unitarian Church, Missouri Baptist State Convention, Dance the Vote, St. Louis Area Voting Initiative, Missouri Jobs with Justice, St. Louis Voter Protection Coalition, NAACP, Missouri State Baptist Convention, Indivisible Missouri, Congregation Shaare Emeth and others – including remarks from: Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, Missouri Faith Voices; Rev. Dr. Linden Bowie, Missouri Baptist State Convention; Rabbi Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation; Rev. Kim Mason, First Unitarian Christian Church; Denise Lieberman, Director of Missouri Voter Protection Coalition; Joan Lipkin, Dance The Vote, among others. 
WHEN:  Sat. July 17, 2021,  6-8pm
WHERE:  6-7pm Vigil with Speakers at First Unitarian Christian Church 5007 Waterman Blvd. , St. Louis, MO 63108,  followed by processional with Red and Black Brass Band to Maryland Plaza. Event will be broadcast live at: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectMissouriVoters

Missouri July 17 John Lewis “Good Trouble” Vigil For Democracy Events include

St. Louis Vigil for Democracy
6-8 p.m. Vigil: First Unitarian Church5007 Waterman Blvd., St. Louis MO 63108Followed by processional to Maryland Plaza with Red and Black Brass Band

Kansas City Vigil for Democracy
6-6:45pm 3708 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. (Cleaver Blvd and Cleveland)Spirit of Freedom Fountain Kansas City, MO 64130

Springfield MO Vigil For Democracy
6:30-8p.m.First Unitarian Universalist Church of Springfield2434 E. Battlefield Rd. Springfield, MO 65084

Jefferson City Vigil for Democracy
8-8:30 p.m. Missouri Veterans Memorial at Missouri Capitol201 W. Capitol AveJefferson City, MO 65101

Because there have been a historic number of anti-voting bills recently introduced at the state level and in some states, passed into law, groups throughout the U.S. are participating in various activities called ‘Deadline for Democracy’ in the next two weeks in support of the For the People Act, now under consideration in Congress, and preserving voting rights.

Missouri has some of the worst voter suppression in the country. 

. A rally downtown St. Louis will take place on Thursday, July 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. in Kiener Plaza Park, which will feature remarks from Missouri State Rep. Peter Merideth, Dr. Sara Kenzior, Wesley Bell, Denise Lieberman, among others. There will be an ASL interpreter for all speakers.

The rally will open with a community dance led by Ashley L. Tate and Thomas Proctor of Ashleyliane Dance Company called ‘Dancing for Democracy’ for Dance the Vote.

With eight out of ten Americans supporting more access to voting, regardless of party affiliations, Dance the Vote, a non-partisan voting advocacy group, will join with over 30 groups nationwide in the Deadline for Democracy grassroots effort.

In St. Louis, the event is sponsored by the Indivisible Missouri Coalition — includes Indivisible St. Louis, Indivisible Pulaski County, Indivisible Heart of The Ozarks, Indivisible Take Action Now, Indivisible SEMO, Indivisible We Will Persist, Small Deeds Done, Dance The Vote, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, and Ashleyliane Dance Company.

At the state level, there have been 389 bills introduced in 48 states that would restrict a person’s voting access as of May 14, 2021 according to the Brennan Center.

From 6-6:20 pm, DTV will offer a free community dance class called “Dancing for Democracy” led by Ashley L Tate and Thomas Proctor of Ashleyliane Dance Company featuring favorites like the Electric Slide, the Wobble, the Cupid Shuffle and more. Everyone is welcome, regardless of age or dance experience.

This will be followed by several confirmed speakers:  authoritarian scholar, writer and anthropologist Dr Sarah Kendzior, Attorney Denise Lieberman of the non-partisan state wide organization Missouri Voter Protection Coalition and St Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell.  Additional speakers may be added.

Postcards will be available for signing and the St Louis Voter Registration Group will be registering people to vote.

“Missouri has some of the most restrictive legislation in the country, blocking access to our most fundamental democratic right,” said Joan Lipkin, the founder of Dance the Vote. “The For the People Act would end gerrymandering, allow universal access to vote by mail, expand early voting requirements, restore the right to vote for people with felony convictions who have served their time, modernize voter registration systems and institute automatic voter registration. It is essential that it be passed.”

Who:      Dance the Vote, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Indivisible St Louis

What:     Deadline for Democracy: Rally for S1 For The People Act

Date:      Thursday, July 1

Where:   Kiener Plaza Park

                500 Chestnut St.

                St. Louis, MO 63101

Time:     6-8 PM CDT

Details:   Further Details and RSVP can be found here:                                                                          https://act.indivisible.org/event/local-actions/163030/signup/

About Dance the Vote:

Dance the Vote is a non-partisan project that uses the arts to promote voter awareness and registration. Founded in 2016 by theatre artist and activist Joan Lipkin in collaboration with activist designer Anne Taussig, voter registration specialist Sabrina Tyuse and choreographer Ashley L. Tate, DTV raises public awareness by utilizing dance, video, graphics, music and spoken word.

Programming is based on various themes of the voting experience, including the experiences of African-Americans, women, people with disabilities, college students and immigrants around voting, voting rights, voter suppression, among other themes.  This project brings together local as well as artists nationwide who creatively seek to make a difference by promoting voter awareness and getting eligible voters registered and committed to vote.

In 2016, the project was presented at Vintage Vinyl, St, Louis Black Pride and Left Bank Books, and the 2018 midterm performance at the Missouri History Museum attracted an audience of 1200. The 2020 season was virtual due to Covid-19, with 10 episodes of commissioned pieces from artists around the country, and also included participation in Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy, the national special on voting produced by CBS and Global Citizen. Dance the Vote also collaborated with Webster University to sponsor a contest for college students using a variety of arts media called “Make Good Trouble: Why John Lewis Inspires Me To Vote’’ for which they awarded cash prizes.

Dance the Vote has received several awards, including an IDEA Award for commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility, a 2021 FOCUS What’s Right With the Region Award for Fostering Creativity for Social Change, an award in the 2021 St. Louis Magazine A List for Moving Democracy, and both a mayoral and aldermanic proclamation declaring Dance The Vote Voter Registration Day in the city of St. Louis.

For more info, contact [email protected] or see www.dancethevotestl.org

About Ashleyliane Dance Company:

Ashleyliane Dance Company (ADC) is a professional performance organization under the artistic direction of Ashley L. Tate, with a mission to cultivate diverse repertory, create safe educational spaces, and a vision to promote the intersection of dance and social issues.

Since its inception in 2007, ADC has performed at a plethora of major events and private engagements, including but not limited to: the Muny, Fair St. Louis, First Night, Loop in Motion, Dancing in the Street, Casino Queen, Four Seasons Hotel and The

Pageant. ADC has been featured on Fox 2 News,”Best of the STL” on STL TV, Show Me St. Louis, HEC-TV, and the Nine Network and in Alive Magazine and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The company has produced a number of dance concerts at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA), Ivory Theatre, and Missouri History Museum, Edison Theatre, and The Grandel.  They have also been invited to perform at the Dance Chicago Festival, the American College Dance Association Convention, the University of Illinois-Chicago, the Chicago Choreographers’ Carnival, Peridance Capezio Center, TADA! Theater, and Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City, as well as the 18th St. Arts Center in Santa Monica, California and Gordon Gamm Theater in Boulder, Colorado. 

ADC is a proud resident organization of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation.

About Indivisible:

Indivisible is a movement driven by a vision of a real democracy of, by, and for the people. The Indivisible movement is a network of thousands of local groups and millions of activists across every state working to build an inclusive democracy by fighting for bold, progressive policies and creating lasting grassroots power. 

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Indivisible St. Louis is a grassroots group dedicated to the pursuit of justice, equity, and progress for all. They are a registered chapter of Indivisible (www.indivisibleguide.com) committed to promoting, encouraging, and facilitating constituent contact with members of Congress to help move a progressive agenda forward.