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King family announces coalition to aid Black, Brown organizers

DMI Staff

Ellie Silverman | The Washington Post

Nearly 60 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his seminal “I Have a Dream Speech,” relatives say his vision is far from realized.

Instead of marching on the nation’s capital this anniversary, Martin Luther King III and his wife, Arndrea Waters King, are focusing their efforts on Black and Brown organizers in communities across the country.

The King family is also looking ahead to next year and asking people to join them in D.C., the weekend of Aug. 26, 2023, to mark the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.

“Right now,” Arndrea Waters King said, “our democracy is in peril.”

Arndrea Waters King also referenced Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s dream of a “beloved community,” where people can “live and work and thrive, unencumbered.”

“The best way to realize the dream, build the beloved community,” she said, “is to help facilitate these groups on the ground that are organizing their communities every single day.”

LaTosha Brown, the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said she plans to use coalition funds to education people around civic engagement, including voter registration, and to bolster efforts in states where the organization sees “the height of voter suppression strengthen,” like Georgia, Florida and Texas.

“We are at a defining moment in American democracy,” Brown said. “If we will go forward with a multiracial, multigenerational coalition of people who want democracy. Or whether we will let this system be destroyed by those who seek to maintain power at the expense of disenfranchising and terrorizing the rest of us.”

The support from the coalition will also aid Daryl Atkinson as he travels to communities across North Carolina to hold registration events.

Atkinson, co-director of Forward Justice, a civil rights group in Durham, N.C., was the lead attorney who filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that restricted when people serving felony community supervision could regain their voting rights. His team argued the law was designed to discriminate against Black people and prevent them from exercising political power at the ballot box. North Carolina judges ruled in their favor in 2021, ordering the restoration of voting rights for thousands of people with a felony conviction. The case has been appealed and is now before the state’s Supreme Court.

As a person who was formally incarcerated, Atkinson knows the barriers people face upon release. A criminal record, he said, holds people back, denying them access to housing, employment and other resources needed to succeed. He said his driver’s license was automatically suspended and he was denied federal financial student aid.

“Our biggest fights in this country have really been about who’s included in that ‘we’ in ‘we the people.’ At one point, African Americans weren’t included. At one point, women weren’t included,” Atkinson said. “History shows us that our democracy is stronger when more people can participate. Every single time that we’ve expanded the franchise, our democracy has become stronger, our society has become better.”

Read the full article on The Washington Post.

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