WASHINGTON, D.C. – Martin Luther King’s family marched alongside people in Washington D.C. on MLK Day. They said they want the holiday to be spent doing what MLK is known for: promoting equal rights and pushing congress to pass voting rights legislation.
Along the Frederick Douglass memorial bridge in Washington D.C. people marched and chanted honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy as an equal rights leader and activist.
“The people united, we’ll never be divided,” chanted the people marching.
But people said this march is symbolic because it’s a chance for them to put pressure on the U.S. Senate to pass voting rights legislation.
“Invoking the spirit of MLK on the day we celebrate him and other leaders in the civil rights movement will I hope get the bill over the finish line,” said Helen Luryi who participated in the march.
In the 1960s, Congress passed the historic Voting Rights Act which protected against race discrimination in voting. Fast forward to today, activists said on top of state legislatures passing laws that are deemed more restrictive on the right to vote; they said a handful of Supreme Court rulings weakened the 1960s VRA.
So they’re pushing to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would strengthen legal provisions against discriminatory voting policies.
“I hope that members of the Senate will see the light and know this is just as important to have bipartisan support Voting Rights Act passed in the 60s even without bipartisan support,” said Rodney Ellis who traveled from Texas to march in D.C. “We need it now more than ever.”
People said this fight is just as critical as the one MLK advocated for decades ago.
“You either stand with MLK and John Lewis and voting rights or you support Jim Crow and going back to Jim Crow,” said Luryi. “Which is sadly the direction we’re heading towards.”
“The Voting Rights Act protects Hispanics, it protects all minorities it gives us all of a chance to participate and make this democracy better,’ said Ellis.
Right now the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is in the Senate, but trying to push that legislation through might not be an easy feat. The bill faces a potential block by republicans if they use the Senate filibuster rule which requires 60 votes before they can move forward with legislation.