With the 2022 midterm elections right around the corner, the time to save voter rights is dwindling by the day. All over the country, new laws are been passed to make voting harder and local maps are being redrawn like gerrymandering on steroids. Much of the electorate that turned out in record numbers to elect the Biden administration will be adversely affected by all of this.
Yet, we wait for some type of action from Congress to counteract all of this. Something? Anything? However, that has not stopped activists from calling on their representatives to act.
According to CNN, the family of Martin Luther King Jr. is pushing for a different way to celebrate the upcoming federal holiday on Jan. 17th. Starting on Jan. 15th in Arizona, the King family will call on faith leaders, organizers, and everyday people to cross bridges in their communities as a form of protest.
On Jan. 17th, coinciding with MLK Jr.’s birthday, the family other activists will bring their demonstrations to Washington D.C. - including marching over the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. These protests are meant to put pressure on the Biden Administration and Congress to pass both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as well as tackle the filibuster.
Martin Luther King III had some specific comments, especially regarding the recent bipartisan infrastructure bill and how Congress can do the same for voting legislation.
“President Biden and Congress used their political muscle to deliver a vital infrastructure deal, and now we are calling on them to do the same to restore the very voting rights protections my father and countless other civil rights leaders bled to secure,” Martin Luther King III said in a statement Wednesday, adding that they “will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father’s dream for a more equal and just America.”
The family will be joined by groups such as the National Urban League, Move On, the Working Families Party, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and more. King’s daughter-in-law, Arndrea Waters King also conveyed the same urgency to Congress, praising the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but wondering where the same urgency is to protect voting rights.
“It’s certainly great that this got done, ” King’s daughter-in-law, Arndrea Waters King, told The Daily Beast of President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure framework. But now that the bipartisan infrastructure bill has been accomplished, Waters King said voters are looking for Congress and the White House to “use that same power and muscle to come together and really stand now for the people” on voting rights.
As we speak now, both the Freedom To Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act are both collecting dust in the Senate. There has been a renewed call to pass legislation by Christmas, but are still divided in how to tackle the filibuster to do so. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. has signaled that he would only support bipartisanship efforts. Keep in mind, the Republicans in the Senate have stopped any chance of progress three times this year alone.
With voting rights, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. The King family, like many voices in America, will continue to stress the importance of getting this done. But given how many representatives like to quote John Lewis and MLK Jr., you would think they can protect the right to participate in fair voting processes in their memories. That is the way you honor them.