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Activist: Strengthen US voting rights, education

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm •  Published: February 5, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Longtime civil rights activist Bob Moses says the United States needs a firmer commitment to voting rights and education, and he's challenging young people to embrace those issues today to strengthen the society they'll lead in a generation.

Moses spoke Wednesday at an event commemorating Freedom Summer, the 1964 project he directed. Hundreds of volunteers, mostly college students, came to Mississippi 50 years ago to challenge segregation by pushing to register black voters. Some of them were killed or beaten.

Moses said U.S. history moves in cycles of expanding rights, then trying to limit them.

"We are lurching back right now," Moses said.

As an example, he cited voter-identification laws that Mississippi and many other states are enacting. Mississippi's law had been on hold until last year, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling erased the requirement to get federal approval for changes of election laws or procedures in states with a history of racial discrimination. The June 3 federal primaries this year will mark the first time Mississippi uses its law that requires voters to show a driver's license or other government-issued ID at the polls.

The event Wednesday was a youth summit hosted by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. More than 400 students at a dozen museums in the U.S. watched the hour-long webcast in which Moses and others discussed Freedom Summer.

Moses and most other panelists spoke in the House chamber of the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson — the same room where Mississippi lawmakers adopted a secession declaration before the start of the Civil War.

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