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Letter From the Editor: Voting Rights Now!

MLK would not consider this day a cause for celebration. Here's why:
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King casts his ballot in Atlanta in 1964, while his wife, Coretta, waits. (Bettman / Getty)

Dear BK Readers,

Today, Americans celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, a federal holiday.

However, this year's celebration hits different, is ironic-- not the kind of irony you chuckle about, like when an old friend pops in your head then suddenly calls. This sort of irony is reprehensible.

MLK,  the globally known civil rights leader who opened doors for Black Americans to gain equality in education, employment and voting, would not consider this day a cause for celebration.

Why not? Because in the past year alone, 19 states have enacted altogether 34 laws that make voting harder, particularly if you live in an urban area and more specifically if you are poor, disabled, elderly or Black.

Photo: Flickr, Peg Hunter

President Joe Biden has crafted a bill that will nullify these laws while provided added protections for voter rights moving forward. But the GOP senate and two Democratic senators already have promised to filibuster and block the bill from passing.

“I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting,” said Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Now, in 2022, nearly 60 years later, we are celebrating MLK's contribution to Civil Rights while, at the same time, watching them one by one disappear.

What we are witnessing is an attack on democracy, a foundational system in the U.S. rolled back because it is no longer exclusive to those it was originally designed to protect: white men.

The system was never intended to protect Black and Brown people. Including women was not a notion. Poor people were surely out of the question. And it was unfathomable it might include an identity other than heterosexual.

Now, armed with increased numbers, greater education, technological savvy, grassroots organization, and a voice at the ballot, these regular human beings are taking several seats at the same table. And it frightens them to death.

And so, Republicans– sensing their demise and extinction– are passing laws that suppress the vote and make it legal to cheat.

The Freedom to Vote Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Bill must be passed now! 

Today, on MLK Day, there are many things you can do to celebrate his legacy. We have compiled a list of places to volunteer here.

If you cannot volunteer, there are other things you can do from your home. Send a letter to your senators to show support the Freedom to Vote Act here.

The form takes 1 minute to fill out and also has an option to share across your social media platforms.

As we celebrate the birth date of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the most meaningful thing you can do today to honor his legacy … is your part to save it.


C. Zawadi Morris, Publisher, BK Reader

C. Zawadi Morris

About the Author: C. Zawadi Morris

C. Zawadi Morris is an award-winning journalist and a Chicago native who moved to Brooklyn in 1997.
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