King Family: MLK Day Will Be a Day for Action, Not Celebration

They want Biden to push as hard for voting rights as he did for infrastructure
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2021 2:23 PM CST
MLK Family: Don't Celebrate MLK Day Without Voting Rights
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, Aug. 28, 1963.   (AP Photo/File)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day next month shouldn't be a day of celebration unless lawmakers act on federal voting rights bills, the civil rights leader's family says. Martin Luther King III, his wife Arndrea Waters King, and their daughter Yolanda Renee King intend to mobilize activists over MLK weekend and implore President Biden and Congress to act, CNN reports. They say they want to send the message that lawmakers should deliver on voting rights as well as infrastructure. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—which would restore enforcement provisions of the 1965 Voting Right Act—and the Freedom to Vote Act have both stalled in Congress.

"Every generation has to earn its freedom, and so this is a form of re-acquiring the freedom," Martin Luther King III, who was 10 years old when his father was assassinated in 1968, tells 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." Arndrea Waters King adds that if MLK was alive today, he might 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, what they were standing and fighting for."

The Kings plan to rally supporters in Phoenix on Jan. 15, MLK's birthday. The plan to march across the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in Washington, DC, with other activists on Jan. 17, the federal holiday. They say that in the coming weeks, they plan to urge faith leaders and civil rights groups not to celebrate the day unless there is progress on voting rights. Martin Luther King III said in a statement Wednesday that activists "will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father's dream for a more equal and just America." (More voting rights stories.)

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