Voting Rights: King Family Responds To Plans For U.S. Senate Rules Reform

Deliver For Voting Rights
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Photo: Paul Moringi\AP

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday evening, Leader Schumer announced plans for a Senate vote tomorrow to implement a ‘talking filibuster’ that allows for robust debate and a path to a final vote in order to pass voting rights legislation.

This follows a weekend of nationwide action led by Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King and over 180 organizations representing millions of Americans to demand the Senate legislate, not celebrate, on Martin Luther King Day.

Martin Luther King III, Civil rights leader and Chairman of the Drum Major Institute, issued the following statement in response:

"Dozens of Senators tweeted their remembrances of my father this weekend, but this vote is their chance to turn their platitudes into action. Senators Manchin and Sinema have heard from the King family, activists and voters all across the country this weekend — now it’s time for their conscience to lead. They still have a chance to do the right thing and reform the filibuster to protect our democracy.”

Arndrea Waters King, Civil rights leader and President of the Drum Major Institute, issued the following statement in response:

"Senator Sinema heard a ringing message from her constituents this weekend: protecting the filibuster instead of voting rights is the real ‘disease of division.’ She and Senator Manchin must throw procedure aside in order to meet the challenge of this unprecedented moment — history will remember if they fail us. We will not stop fighting until this legislation is passed.”

On Monday, the King family held a press conference with Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Beatty, Rep. Sewell, Mayor Bowser, and a dozen leaders of progressive organizations to honor the King family legacy with action. This followed a rally in Phoenix on Saturday where hundreds of activists called on Sen. Sinema to reform the filibuster for voting rights.

"Senators Sinema and Manchin also say if the bill doesn’t get bipartisan support, it shouldn’t pass," said Martin Luther King III. "Well, the 14th amendment—which granted citizenship to slaves in 1868—that didn’t have bipartisan support.

Should formerly enslaved people have been denied citizenship, Senator Sinema? The 15th amendment that gave formerly enslaved people the right to vote in 1870—that didn’t have bipartisan support. Should former slaves have been denied the right to vote, Senator Manchin?

In 1922, ‘23 and ‘24, some senators filibustered an anti-lynching bill that had passed in the House. Would Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema have supported blocking those bills, too? I’m just applying their logic here—and showing that it is not logical at all. To them, the filibuster is sacred—except when it’s not.”

"As a mother who wants to leave a better world for the next generation, I feel the weight of this moment," said Waters King. "Our daughter Yolanda is Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s only grandchild—and I know that when he talked about his dream, he was dreaming of her. She is just 13 years old.

In 2013, when she was 5, the Voting Rights Act was gutted by a Supreme Court decision that said states with a history of racist voter suppression didn’t need oversight anymore because racism was a thing of the past. In 2021, when she was 12, the Supreme Court toppled the rest of the Voting Rights Act and her home state passed laws to make it even harder for Black and Brown Georgians to vote.

Today, Yolanda and her peers—children of just 13—have fewer rights than on the day they took their first breath on this earth. What would MLK say about that? Is that the dream he had for his grandbaby?

I ask Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema and all those who stand in the way of restoring voting rights: Is that the legacy you want to leave behind?”

Learn more at deliverforvotingrights.com

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