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March 11, 2014

MLK Commemorative March Calls for Expanded Voting Rights in Kentucky


Last week in Frankfort, Kentucky, Sierra Club volunteers were among the 5,000 Kentuckians who marched on the State Capitol to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1964 Civil Rights March on Frankfort.

Marchers held signs demanding expanded voting rights in Kentucky, and many held signs protesting mountaintop removal coal mining or calling for comprehensive immigration reform.


The Sierra Club's Cumberland Chapter and Beyond Coal Campaign began working with the NAACP in Kentucky last fall to plan the march. Speeches were delivered by Governor Steve Beshear and Kentucky NAACP President Raul Cunningham, among others.


The Sierra Club contingent was led by Cumberland Chapter Chair Judy Lyons, Louisville Group Chair Wallace McMullen, and Louisville Group Vice-Chair Drew Foley. Many volunteers rode to Frankfort on a bus provided by the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which works closely with the Beyond Coal Campaign in the state. Joan Lindop of the Louisville Group represented the Sierra Club at all coalition meetings of Allied Organizations for Civil Rights.

"There were folks from all walks of life who listened to the speeches and then lobbied the State Senate on a range of issues, including expanded voting rights for all Kentuckians and the restoration of felons' voting rights," says Louisville-based Sierra Club organizer Thom Pearce. "It was an empowering day and a good day of alliance-building."

UPDATE: On March 17, the Sierra Club and EarthJustice announced that they will file a lawsuit against Louisville Gas & Electric for "continuous, unabated" dumping of coal ash waste directly into the Ohio River. "We're calling on the EPA to put forward more stringent guidelines for coal ash because states aren't policing it," Pearce says.

The lawsuit against LG&E is based on time-lapse photography from a camera the Sierra Club and EarthJustice strapped to a tree, which captured a year's worth of images showing coal ash wastewater being dumped continuously into the river.

TAKE ACTION: Citizens are the frontline of defense for clean water and a healthy environment. If you encounter contaminated water on private property or in public waterways, or a problem with a mining operation, report it -- don't assume someone else is taking care of the problem.

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