During his life, one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s core legislative goals was to secure equal voting rights for all Americans. 54 years after his death, and that part of the dream is still stalled in Congress, where a new voting rights protection bill is facing increasingly long odds. Now, King’s family are calling for a halt to celebrations until this part of their father’s legacy is realized.
“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.”
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act have met a bitter bipartisan battle in Congress. The former has been passed by the House, but the second has stalled in the Senate with no Republicans on board and attempts at a compromise coming up empty. The gridlock has even led to some discussion of scrapping the filibuster, allowing such measures to pass with a simple majority, though not enough Democrats are on board for such a move.
“As a mother, I can’t help but think that [King] would be surprised and possibly a bit disappointed that not only his four little children, but now his grandchild who is not so little anymore, have to stand and fight in a lot of ways [for] what they were standing and fighting for,” Arndrea Waters King told Axios.