Voting rights, racial justice: Under challenge, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is being reinvigorated

Voting rights, racial justice: Under challenge, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is being reinvigorated

@Topstories, Martin-Luther-King

1/17/2022 1:32:00 PM

Voting rights, racial justice: Under challenge, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is being reinvigorated

Black scholars and social activists bemoan the fact that the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may seem to be eroding amid an assault on civil rights, but some say the challenges themselves are serving to reinvigorate his legacy.

ByAcross the decades, since King’s work and words were immortalized, those ideals have arguably been elusive for Black Americans.“I think his legacy is still here. I think there are warriors who are willing to work on behalf of the people,” said Kadida Kenner, founding executive director of the

“His legacy will never be destroyed. It seems to me that any time we make progress on racial issues, even on economic equality, we regress for a moment, but we find our center again and we get back to what is important.”Black Americans overwhelmingly say that the racial justice ideals preached by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have been largely elusive for them - and in recent chaotic times, even less so.

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MLK Day events in LA to honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy MondayLos Angeles' premier annual event to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- the Kingdom Day Parade in South L.A. -- has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still a number of MLK-related events set for the Monday holiday. A visionary

How Martin Luther King, Jr.’s multifaceted view on human rights still inspires todaySome of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most iconic speeches and marches were devoted to ending war, dismantling nuclear weapons, and bringing economic justice—a multifaceted view on human rights which still inspires today الجوازات_نساء عودتكم_حياة العودة_الحضورية_الآمنة وزارة_التعليم البزنس43 Great man! Noticed pundits+politicians who arrogantly opine POTUS’ 'tone' calling out the implicit racism in anti-Voter laws+resistance to strong Voter Rights look like people in no danger of THEIR Right to Vote stolen. Implicit “You (people of color) need to ask me nicely if you can vote”

Sunday Reading: Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.This weekend, revisit a selection of pieces from our archive about the significance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,’s extraordinary work and devotion to principle. Poem for MLK

How to watch the 'Ice Moon' rise on Martin Luther King Jr. DayThe full moon is the first of 2022. Screw your fake moon marketing flavors. It’s the moon. Not something we should ignore every day except for the mere 24-hour window each month that it is considered “full”, making it briefly worth looking at. This whole marketing promotion for the moon is sheer idiocy.

What to listen to on the day Martin Luther King Jr. is rememberedKing was fearless—and fearless because he was faithful—and dangerous to the segregationists. He answered to a higher authority. Dr King wanted to live in a world where we were judged by the content of our character not color of our skin. However, that is precisely what the left wants. CRT absolutely segregates us. It attempts to shame white people and teaches kids of color to be victims. EqualityEquity 🙌

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Biography, Speeches & QuotesKing made an incredible impact on the country’s racial, cultural and intellectual landscape. MLKDay Today's Iconic Civil Rights Leader And Modern Day Founding Father Republican President Mark Patrick Seymour Has Made It A Point To Honor MLK And His Standing Up For The Rights Of All People Asian Latino Chinese Japanese European Cambodian Arabian Jewish African

Updated: Jan. 17, 2022, 5:20 a.m. | Published: Jan. 17, 2022, 5:20 a.m. Social activists like Kadida Kenner, founding executive director of the New Pennsylvania Project, a voting rights organization, says the assault on voting rights in this country is a setback to racial justice. By Ivey DeJesus | idejesus@pennlive.com The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. bequeathed to the nation a message of peace, racial justice and non-violence. Across the decades, since King’s work and words were immortalized, those ideals have arguably been elusive for Black Americans. Seldom though, some say, has the assault on racial justice been as concerted as in recent times. As the country commemorates King’s life and legacy, many Black Americans say they are disheartened by what they see as a systemic assault on racial justice and civil rights, one that puts King’s message to the test. “I think his legacy is still here. I think there are warriors who are willing to work on behalf of the people,” said Kadida Kenner, founding executive director of the New Pennsylvania Project, a voting rights organization. “His legacy will never be destroyed. It seems to me that any time we make progress on racial issues, even on economic equality, we regress for a moment, but we find our center again and we get back to what is important.” Black scholars and social activists say the events of recent years - the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, among many others, and the sustained racial disparities affecting health and economic welfare and the reemergence of white supremacy — serve as reminders that racial justice continues to be an illusory ideal. Nowhere is the assault on King’s legacy as stark, Black Americans say, than in the mounting assault on voting rights across the country. Black Americans overwhelmingly say that the racial justice ideals preached by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have been largely elusive for them - and in recent chaotic times, even less so. “We talk about the fact that Republicans and Democrats aren’t working together,” said Kenner, whose voting rights organization is modeled after the successful New Georgia Project founded by Stacey Abrams in 2014. “What concerns me is that even at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, when people were getting bloody and killed, there were still Republicans willing to work across the aisle.” As President Joe Biden noted this week, voting rights reauthorization legislation has historically received overwhelming bipartisan support. That’s no longer the case, Kenner said. “In this moment we don’t have a single Republican willing to reauthorize voting rights,” Kenner said. “That’s concerning. I think in this moment we are so politicized, so concerned with remaining in power, that we are willing to do things we didn’t do in the height of the 1960s.” As Congress faces the unlikely passage of laws protecting voter rights, social activists say efforts to disenfranchise minority voters are a setback for racial justice — and as such, a deliberate erosion of King’s legacy. “There were a lot of people throughout the Civil Rights struggle who made the ultimate sacrifice and now that sacrifice is being cheapened every time someone tries to introduce voting rights restrictions,” said Joseph Robinson, head of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Development Institute in Harrisburg. “It is disheartening. Their sacrifice, their contribution to this country is being marginalized and devalued every time efforts are made to introduce changes that would prohibit or limit people’s access to voting. It’s a disservice to all those willing to pay the ultimate price, including Dr. King.” Since the November 2020 presidential election, nearly 400 bills have been introduced in 48 states to restrict voting rights; approximately 34 of those bills have been ratified. Amid a deeply divided Senate, Democrats are making a renewed push to get federal voting legislation — the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act — through the high chamber. The bills are widely seen as imperative for the protection of voting rights, particularly those of minorities. “I don’t think Dr. King would be surprised at what is happening,” Kenner said. “He knew our democracy was fragile and we had to continue to fight. We took our guard down. We got complacent and comfortable.” Black scholars note that the racial justice movement in this country has been plotted on a trajectory of evolving challenges from Jim Crow and the fight for equality in education, to employment and the voting booth. The current struggles are merely the latest chapter in the narrative. “Dr. King, I think, got us started,” said Niki vonLockette , associate professor of Public Policy and African American Studies at Penn State. “I feel you can literally say he got us started.” VonLockette, who is writing a book on systemic discrimination, said she is at times humbled by the perennial struggles over the same battles, including those for voting rights and economic justice. “I thought we took care of all this? Didn’t we fix this already?” she said she often asks herself. “That’s our assumption. We thought we solved this problem. But we are just getting started. That’s bad news. It feels depressing.” As someone who relies on quantitative evidence and not mere assertions, vonLockette said she has examined the forensics of modern day racism and draws no reassurance from it that King’s legacy is honored by all Americans. “The evidence shows us that we have made — across sociological, economic and public policy — limited strides,” she said. “Many of those strides have been pushed back.” Of course, many stakeholders in the Black community note significant progress that has been made since King called upon the nation to examine its conscience. Newly installed Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams said unity and singularity of purpose attests to that progress. “As for what has brought that about, I would have to say that sometimes in the darkest of hours, we bring about our own light,” she said. The victories garnered by social justice leaders such as King, the late Congressman John Lewis, Justice Thurgood Marshall and The Rev. Jesse Jackson, may be under attack, Williams added, but the challenge is invigorating the forces that are pushing back. “(W)e have always believed that an attack on the freedoms of any American is viewed within our community as an attack on all Americans,” Williams said. “I see a unity, that coming together for the greater good, that I have not seen in many years.” Williams said one needs to look no further than the halls of Congress or city government to see King’s legacy in a profound and obvious way. “We are electing a more diverse group of people to office than ever before,” she said. “So just as there are causes for concern with issues like the erosion of the protections of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, there is so much promise in seeing people from all walks of life, especially traditionally underrepresented minorities, standing up, because they see the problems plaguing their community and they want to remedy them. Above all else, Dr. King was a beacon of light in a sea of darkness to so many.” Madeline Williams, a spokeswoman for Capital Rebirth, a racial justice advocacy group, said King’s message and legacy can be seen in the robust and growing advocacy for racial equality and last year’s commemoration of Juneteenth into a federal holiday. The holiday commemorates the end of slavery. “I think that the amount of allies that have become a part of the movement that celebrates black lives is really what Dr. Martin Luther King was advocating for,” Williams said. “He very frankly said ‘I’m looking forward to a day where Black people and white people can get along where we can live harmoniously and celebrate our shared humanity.’” Williams, whose organization a few years ago organized Black Lives Matter rallies in Harrisburg, noted that King’s legacy imbued many of those events. “Juneteenth is an example of the protest last year with George Floyd. Just here in Harrisburg down at the capital,” Williams said. “It wasn’t uncommon to see Asian people, Latino people, or to see white people there saying black lives matter.” For vonLockette, whose great-great grandfather — one of the few Black financiers in this country at the time — was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, the setbacks are mere stepping stones in the path forward. “That’s the positive side,” she said. “They got the ball rolling. We still have so much work to do. There’s a lot to show but we got pushed back. But this new generation is pushing forward and being heard in powerful sectors. That’s what is refreshing and reinvigorated.” Staff writers Charles Thompson and Zahriah Balentine contributed to this report. Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission. Disclaimer