Some Black, Hispanic voting rights groups to boycott Biden’s Atlanta speech

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FILE PHOTO: People gather at Ebenezer Baptist Church during a stop on the Freedom Ride For Voting Rights in Atlanta

WASHINGTON – Some civil rights groups that helped turn out Democrats in Georgia during the 2020 election to win the state for U.S. President Joe Biden plan to boycott his speech in Atlanta on Tuesday because they’re disappointed by the lack of action on voting rights.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will speak in Atlanta about the need to secure voting rights in the United States and change the Senate filibuster rule in the face of new Republican-backed laws that Democrats say will suppress minority votes.

“It is very disappointing that we use our voice and our vote to elect the Democrats to handle this issue and it just hasn’t been given the priority that it should,” April England Albright, legal director for activist group Black Voters Matter, said in an interview.

The group, which last summer arranged a bus tour through southern states to mark the 60th anniversary of the historic “Freedom Riders” campaign, will boycott the speech along with the New Georgia Project Action Fund, the Asian American Advocacy Fund and the GALEO Impact Action Fund, which represents Latinos.

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Biden will be joined in Atlanta by NAACP president Derrick Johnson and leaders from other civil rights groups. In a statement, the groups that will not attend called Biden’s visit an “unacceptable” empty gesture, unless it includes “an announcement of a finalized voting rights plan that will pass both chambers, not be stopped by the filibuster, and be signed into law.”

Senate Democrats tried to bring the voting-rights bill to a floor vote four times last year, and were repeatedly blocked by Republicans, who made use of the filibuster rule that requires 60 of the 100 senators to agree to advance most legislation.

(Reporting by Merdie Nzanga; Editing by Heather Timmons and Grant McCool)