Kings launch voting rights effort honoring John Lewis

Greg Nash

Martin Luther King III and Arndrea King, his wife, are launching a fundraising campaign aimed at honoring the late Georgia congressman John Lewis (D) while raising money for voting rights activists. 

Lewis’s “contributions to the movement for voting rights are unmatched and it’s now our responsibility to keep the momentum and ensure every American has the ability to vote safely and smoothly,” Arndrea King said in a statement.

Named #ForJohn in memory of Lewis, a civil rights icon and voting rights champion long before he served in Congress, the effort comes as the partisan showdown over voting rights has reached a fever pitch. A number of GOP-led states have introduced and passed restrictive voting laws, while Democrats have been stymied in Congress in their efforts to win approval of sweeping voter rights legislation given the Senate filibuster.

King III, the oldest living child of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said: “Our democracy is under attack. Our elected officials need to recognize the urgent moment we’re in and act now to protect voting rights and ensure American democracy is upheld.”

The campaign launch corresponds with the one-year anniversary of Lewis’s death — July 17 — which is Saturday.

“#ForJohn will support the legacy of our family friend John Lewis and maintain pressure on Congress to pass reforms,” King III said.

Joining the couple’s cause is super PAC Resist This, which ran successful grassroots fundraising campaigns in the last election cycle, including #WinBothSeats, an endeavor spearheaded by King III and Andrew Yang that raised over $2.5 million for activists in Georgia. 

Democrats successfully flipped both of the Peach State’s Senate seats in two January runoff races. 

Campaign donors can either make a one-off contribution or choose to make a daily donation between $0.50 and $2. That money will then go to various voting rights groups around the country.

The first two months of contributions, though, will go to “March On for Voting Rights,” a mass march that King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton are leading on Aug. 28, the 58th anniversary of the original March on Washington.

Democrats currently have no clear path to getting their touted voting rights legislation — the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — through Congress, as the bills have little to no Republican support. Neither piece of legislation has the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate filibuster.

Moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) are both firmly against getting rid of the filibuster, even for voting rights. 

Nonetheless, calls for some level of filibuster reform have increased.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has proposed that an exception to the filibuster be allowed that would allow bills related to voting rights the ability to bypass the procedural rule by simple majority.

Certain exceptions to the filibuster already exist; confirmation votes and budget reconciliation — what Democrats used to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan — can both be passed with a simple majority.

On Thursday, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) led a group of pro-voting rights protesters into the Hart Senate Office Building, ultimately resulting in her being taken into custody.

Beatty and her fellow protesters can be heard shouting “end the filibuster” in video taken by reporters on the scene.

“We will not be turned around. We will keep walking. We will fight for freedom. We will fight for our right to vote!” Beatty tweeted, shortly before being arrested by Capitol Police.

Tags Andrew Yang For the People Act Georgia Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Lewis John Lewis Voting Rights Act Joyce Beatty Kyrsten Sinema voting rights
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