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Voter Rights Bill Announced During MLK Celebration

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, along with clergy and civil rights leaders, are backing an Ohio constitutional amendment guaranteeing certain voter protections. The Voter Bill of Rights was launched Thursday at a ceremony held ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The measure would guarantee access to polls and freedom from intimidation. It is a response to a June U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Several states have toughened voter laws since the ruling. Proponents say such measures guard against voter fraud. Critics say voter fraud is rare, and voting restrictions are aimed at suppressing low-income people, particularly minorities. Ohio's annual celebration yesterday included music and oratory. Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports.

Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor joined other state leaders and employees in the downtown Columbus Trinity Episcopal Church for Ohio’s commemoration to Martin Luther King Jr.

Taylor urges that the battles King and others took on more than 50 years ago continue to make an impact.

Taylor: “Our youth—the students with us today—must understand who he was, to embrace his character and his strength so that his courage, message and passion is never lost.”

(Pastor Rickey Baker Singing)

The celebration included music from local pastors and rousing speeches from young students ranging from ages 9 to 17. They were the winners of the annual statewide oratorical contest.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.