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Juneteenth Celebration Focuses On Ohio Voting Rights

The Wesley Center continued its Juneteenth celebration this year with an emphasis on voting rights.
Wesley Community Center
The Wesley Center continued its Juneteenth celebration this year with an emphasis on voting rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Ohio can remove voters from registration rolls if they do not return a mailed form confirming their address and then do not vote for the next four years. Dayton Wesley Community Center members say voting is a big component in freedom.

Last weekend, the Wesley Center celebrated Juneteenth, a national holiday recognizing the day slavery was abolished and celebrating African American independence. According to Wesley Center Executive Director Yvette Kelly-Fields, voting rights were highlighted in the Center's celebration.

"When you start to roll back the ability for people to have a voice...through purging voter registrations...or gerrymandering, so that certain groups have leverage...to be able to enact certain laws, rules, overturn laws," Kelly-Fields said, "that’s the issue that in 2018 we have to actively work against. Because if not, the entire point of having voting rights will be null and void."

Longtime Wesley Center member Dr. James Dobbins said people should collaborate with community organizations for education.

"We cannot take for granted the importance of education, information and awareness," Dobbins said. "...We’re going to have to put feet on the ground. We’re going to have to make a pledge, and a dedication to knock on doors, for whomever your candidate is. Because that is what is going to make the difference for who holds the reigns and the levers of power and authority in the country and in the communities where you live."

Kelly-Fields said the Wesley Center is actively working with other community organizations to protect freedoms.

"Our two-pronged approach is: One, building on voter education and getting people to vote, [and] two, supporting those organizations and making people aware of those organizations that are out there to secure people’s freedom so we don’t look up and see certain things rolled back," Kelly-Fields said.

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Sheila Raghavendran