RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Communities across the country held vigils Thursday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Several vigils were held in the Triangle.

Dozens of candles shined on Bicentennial Plaza Thursday evening as activists, citizens, and lawmakers gathered for a candlelight vigil to reflect on the attacks of Jan. 6, 2021, and focus on voting rights moving forward.

Raleigh-Apex NAACP President Gerald Givens Jr. spoke at the event.

“What we saw last year on Jan. 6, it was just heartbreaking, and that’s not what we want to see happen in our Capitol,” he said.

Voting rights was a key focus. The group Indivisible Triangle Daily Call to Action organized the vigil. It’s calling for the passage of state and federal voting rights legislation, including the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.

The group’s administrator Chuck Tryon said the legislation would include protections for mail-in voting, early voting, and restore parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that have since been struck down by the United States Supreme Court.

​”These issues of voting rights are essential to our democracy,” Tryon said. “I mean, it’s absolutely essential that we stand up for our right to vote and our ability to have free, fair elections.”

Four state lawmakers from Wake County — Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, Rep. Julie von Haefen, Sen. Wiley Nickel, and Sen. Sarah Crawford — spoke about the importance of voting and the events of Jan. 6, 2021. Ten-year-old Jerel McGeachy, of Spring Lake, recited Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech.

“I think that it’s very important that as we celebrate Jan. 6 that we explain to our children exactly what happened so this never happens again,” Givens said.

There was a rally outside Raleigh’s federal building Thursday afternoon, as well as vigils in Durham and Chapel Hill.