AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of people packed the steps of the Texas Capitol on Saturday at a protest rally to make the end of a four-day march in support of voting rights.
Country music legend Willie Nelson, himself a Texan, led spectators in singing “vote them out.”
The 27-mile "Selma to Montgomery-style" march, which began Wednesday, was led in part by Beto O’Rourke, the former El Paso Democratic congressman and presidential candidate.
Earlier this week, O’Rourke and marchers shut down the frontage road of Interstate 35 during the morning rush hour, funneled between restaurants and cut a path from red statehouse districts to blue ones. The rally culminated in Saturday's rally and concert by Nelson.
Speakers at the rally included Luci Baines Johnson, the youngest daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, according to ABC affiliate KVUE.
Johnson told the crowd her father would be proud of what they were doing, as he had signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law almost 56 years ago. Meantime, O'Rourke told the rally-goers that they couldn't give up and need to push forward to fight for voting rights; he called Texas the "hardest state in the nation in which to vote."
Nelson weighed in by issuing the following statement explaining why he chose to perform at the event:
“It is important that we ensure the right for EVERY American to vote and vote safely. Laws making it more difficult for people to vote are Un-American & are intended to punish poor people, people of color, the elderly & disabled…why? If you can’t win by playing the rules, then it’s you & your platform – not everyone else’s ability to vote.”
The march and rally came as the majority of Texas House Democrats remained in Washington, D.C., to break quorum during the state Legislature’s special session due to a controversial election reform and restrictions bill.