Samuel Corum / Getty Images
When events honoring the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. started across the country, descendants of the slain civil rights leader demanded that politicians push the federal suffrage reform.
At demonstrations Monday, members of the King family said there could be “no celebration without legislation.” That means there can be no question of paying tribute to King and his legacy if there is no support for the Democrats’ proposal to reform the vote, Martin Luther King III said.
“Remember today the true nature of my father’s work. He fought for easy access to the ballot box and civil rights protection. He is not a galleon figure to be used to lift backward agendas. We do not celebrate until Congress does its job and legislates,” he said. King’s eldest son on Twitter.
Remember today the true nature of my father’s work. He fought for easy access to the ballot box and the protection of civil rights. He is not a galleon figure to be used to lift backward agendas. We will not celebrate until Congress does its job and legislates. #DeliverForVoting Rights #MLKDay pic.twitter.com/JxOWptzjGq
– Martin Luther King III (@ OfficialMLK3) January 17, 2022
The Freedom To Vote Act would, among other things, set new minimum standards for early voting and postal voting. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act seeks to restore important elements of the landmark Voting Rights Act that have been weakened by Supreme Court rulings.
President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are trying to pass the Lewis Act this week. To do so, they are trying to scrap the filibuster, a procedural rule that requires a 60-vote threshold to bring legislation into debate. But they face severe opposition from members of their own party who do not want to see changes in the filibuster, as well as from Republicans.
Activists are marching in memory of MLK and for voting reform
Monday morning in Washington, DC, members of the King family led hundreds of protesters on a march across the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. Despite the cold weather, masked marchers held up signs calling for voting reform, DC state formation and an end to the filibuster.
The group continued their two-mile Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Walk through the city until they reached Union Station, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And other lawmakers spoke during a news conference.
“Almost 60 years ago at the march in Washington, Dr. King declared: ‘Now is the time to make the promises of democracy a reality’ ‘” said Pelosi in a statement. “Now is the time to make righteousness a reality for all of God’s children.” Let us listen to these immortal words by strengthening our democracy and securing the blessings of freedom for every American. “
Samuel Corum / Getty Images
A similar demonstration took place in Charleston, W. Va., When a group of protesters blocked traffic in the city to raise awareness of suffrage legislation.
About a dozen protesters were arrested after sitting at an intersection, according to local reports.
The group specifically called on West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who is strictly against ending the filibuster, to vote on the Lewis Act and “fix the filibuster.”
In Atlanta, other members of the King family gathered with local activists and politicians to honor King’s memory at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where he once served as pastor.
Bernice King, CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonvolent Social Change, talked about his father’s legacy and non-violent methods during his speech.
“If ever there was a time when the world needed this love-centered way, it is now,” she said.
The broader message that remained the same: The way to honor King’s memory is to pass the Voting Rights Act.
“To truly honor the legacy of the man we celebrate today, we must continue to fight for the freedom to vote, for the freedom of all,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a speech that was shared virtually.
Volunteers who participated in King Center’s MLK Day service project in Atlanta, despite winter conditions, got a surprise from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made local black-owned food trucks available to feed the volunteers.
January 15 marks what would have been King Jr.’s 93rd birthday, who was only 39 when he was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tenn.
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