Voting Rights Project events set in Andalusia this Saturday

Published 1:22 am Friday, July 20, 2018

Monroe County native Jonathan Barry-Blocker, the guest speaker for Saturday’s Movie and a Message event at First Baptist Church Whatley Street, is excited to come back to a community like his own to talk about how important voting is.

“It is critical that everyone needs to be involved in voting,” Barry-Blocker said. “We need these young adults to know that, so they can make their voices be heard.”

Barry-Blocker currently works at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery as a staff attorney in the Criminal Justice Reform practice group, and participates in the Alabama Voting Rights Project, a collaborative initiative to assist formerly incarcerated citizens with restoring and reclaiming their right to vote.

“We think voting rights is quintessential civil rights work,” Barry-Blocker said. “Additionally in Alabama, it is intimately tied to the criminal justice system.”

Barry-Blocker believes that civil rights are a lot broader than what people have assumed them to be.

“Historically, people have always viewed civil rights as a race issue,” Barry-Blocker said. “But it is much bigger than that, such as LGBTQ and the immigration issue. In the end, we are all human, and it is so important to know how expansive civil rights are.”

The Alabama Voting Rights Project will take a simple message across the state: A felony conviction does not permanently take away a person’s right to vote. Many Alabama residents who have paid their debts to society are eligible to vote or to have their voting rights restored by obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility to Register to Vote.

“So many people fought and died to ensure that all citizens have a voice in American society through the right to vote, yet many men and women – disproportionately African Americans and poor people – have been denied the right to vote even after completing their sentences,” said Lecia Brooks, outreach director for the SPLC. “The Alabama Voting Rights Project is dedicated to ensuring that every person who is eligible to vote in Alabama is registered, and that each one of them can access the franchise. A healthy democracy depends on full participation by all members of society.”

Barry-Blocker is most excited to talk about how easy it is for citizens to get involved.

“With the Alabama Voting Rights Project, we will be able to get so many eligible citizens at the polls,” Barry-Blocker said. “Especially the young African Americans that are in the county, we want to reach as many as we can.”

Barry-Blocker started his legal career as a prosecutor in Central Florida and most recently represented low-income Alabama citizens on housing, unemployment and education legal issues. He uses these years of criminal and civil trail experiences to identify areas for reform in Alabama’s criminal justice system.

The SLPC will come to Andalusia before the event at FBC-Whatley Street to distribute voter registration information and voter education information.

The SPLC will have a table at Marvin’s, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Sat., July 21, 2018. The Voter Outreach Program will then be relocated to FBC-Whatley and will be open from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. as part of the Movie and a Message event. The movie will start promptly at 5 p.m.

. For additional information, please contact Darrell Thomas at 678.825.5238 or email us at