FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 15, 2021
Common Defense Veterans join Martin Luther King III and Over 80 National and Grassroots Groups in Announcing MLK Day Mobilizations Calling for No Celebration Without Voting Rights Legislation
MLK Day Holiday Will Send Clear Message to President Biden and Congress: You Delivered for Bridges, Now Deliver for Voting Rights
Common Defense, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The National Urban League, National Action Network, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Voto Latino, SEIU, MoveOn, Demos, Working Families Party, Sierra Club, African American Christian Clergy Coalition, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), and More will Join Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King and Yolanda Renee King for MLK Day Weekend
WASHINGTON – Today, Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King and Yolanda Renee King, alongside Common Defense and dozens of national and grassroots organizations representing millions of voters, announced mobilizations on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to restore and expand voting rights to honor Dr. King’s legacy. The actions will call on President Biden and the Senate to pass urgently needed federal voting rights legislation, including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and ensure the Jim Crow filibuster doesn’t stand in the way.
Common Defense Executive Director and US Army Veteran Jose Vasquez issued the following statement:
“In the same month that we will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we will also be observing the one-year-anniversary of the January 6th assault on our Capitol. Our democracy is on shaky ground, and Congress must act to restore integrity in our election systems.
Just six days into the new year, after we democratically elected Georgia’s first Jewish and Black Senators, an armed insurrection stormed the Capitol. As a violent mob desecrated one of the most venerable institutions in our country, a place that represents the values of a democracy I and my comrades fought to defend, we were holding our fourth virtual Veterans Organizing Institute for 30 veterans from around the country. We were training veterans on how to be effective organizers and advocates for progressive policies, including voting rights for all. Those of us presenting that day were rattled and weary, but nothing was going to stop us from moving forward. This is why we are joining more than 80 advocacy groups and descendants of Martin Luther King Jr. to call for more aggressive efforts to overcome Republican opposition to strengthening our democracy.”
Strengthening our democracy should be a priority. Americans just saw President Biden use the full weight and power of his office to ensure Congress passed the infrastructure bill — his leadership secured over $1 trillion for our nation’s roads, airports, seaports, and bridges. Now, voters are demanding the President and Congress do the same to pass federal voting rights legislation. Throughout MLK Day weekend, Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King, Yolanda Renee King and partners will cross symbolic bridges to send a clear message to President Biden and Congress: you delivered for bridges, now deliver for voting rights.
“President Biden and Congress used their political muscle to deliver a vital infrastructure deal, and now we are calling on them to do the same to restore the very voting rights protections my father and countless other civil rights leaders bled to secure,” said Martin Luther King III, Chairman of the Drum Major Institute. “Like those who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, we will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father’s dream for a more equal and just America.”
The mobilizations will begin in Arizona on January 15, Dr. King’s birthday, where Martin Luther King III’s family and local groups will rally supporters across Phoenix, in alignment with the Arizona Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee. Actions will culminate in D.C. on January 17, where the family and hundreds more will cross the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge and join the annual D.C. Peace Walk: Change Happens with Good Hope and a Dream.
The MLK Day mobilizations follow a year of coordinated attacks to our democracy including the assault on our Capitol on January 6th and constant attacks on the voting rights of Black and Brown communities. In 2021 alone, Republican state legislatures introduced over 400 anti-voting bills and enacted 33. These suppressive bills — which were introduced and passed after Black and Brown voters showed up in record numbers to deliver Democrats a governing trifecta — close polling centers, purge voter rolls, eliminate early voting, and gerrymander Black and Brown voters into predominantly white districts. Additionally, the Supreme Court’s Brnovich v. DNC decision further gutted the Voting Rights Act, a bill Dr. King played an instrumental role in passing. Federal voting rights legislation will help overturn these Jim Crow-era state bills and put key protections in place.
“On the historic day of service to commemorate my father-in-law and continue his work, we will join our voices together to call for no celebration without meaningful voting rights legislation,” said Arndrea Waters King, Activist and President of the Drum Major Institute. “Voting is an essential part of our democracy’s infrastructure, and we cannot afford for it to crumble any further. President Biden and Congress must fight for the voting rights of Black and Brown Americans the same way they fought for our bridges — with every ounce of power their office provides.”
Voters across the country are invited to support the call for voting rights legislation by joining mobilizations in Phoenix and D.C., signing the “Deliver for Voting Rights” MoveOn petition, and by sharing support on social media using the hashtag #DeliverForVotingRights and calling their Senators to demand action.
Please find the full list of partners here.