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MLK family: “No celebration without legislation”

DMI Staff

The family of Martin Luther King Jr. is urging the public not to celebrate his legacy as a civil and voting rights activist on MLK Day next month if Congress hasn’t passed new national voting rights protections, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: This no-celebration-without-legislation approach is a unique form of protest, and puts pressure not just on Republicans, but also Democrats, who’ve been reluctant to eliminate the filibuster to pass pending bills.

  • “Every generation has to earn its freedom, and so this is a form of re-acquiring the freedom,” Martin Luther King III told Axios. “We shouldn’t have to do it. But we do have to do it, and we are going to do it, because the voting rights of people are far too important.”
  • His wife, Arndrea Waters King, said in the same interview: “We’re hoping that the administration will use their full power the same way in which they use the full power to deliver for bridges.”

Driving the news: Preserving or expanding voting rights has become a focal point for Democrats, as Republican legislatures across the country have enacted a slew of voting changes following the 2020 presidential election.

  • They include cutbacks to voting access and gerrymandering of congressional district lines to perpetuate the GOP’s state and national power for the next decade.

What we’re watching: In the coming weeks, Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King and their daughter, Yolanda Renee King, will mobilize faith leaders and civil rights groups to withhold traditional MLK celebrations if Congress doesn’t push through federal voter protections.

  • The King family will be in Arizona on Jan. 15, MLK’s birthday, and at the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17, the federal holiday commemorating MLK Day.
  • They’re urging voters to reach out to their senators about the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.

Read the full article in Axios.

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