State Watch

King family to march for voting rights in Arizona before MLK Day

Some family members of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. will march on Saturday in the state of Arizona for voting rights days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to a press release from King’s son, Martin Luther King III. 

King will be joined by his wife, Arndrea Waters King, and daughter Yolanda Renee King as well as local Arizona groups in Phoenix, “to call on Senator Sinema to urgently pass federal voting rights legislation and ensure that the Jim Crow filibuster does not stand in the way,” according to the release. 

The news comes after Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) made a speech on the Senate floor on her support to uphold the legislative filibuster this week shortly before President Biden was slated to meet with Democrats on voting rights legislation. 

Sinema, a moderate Democrat, stated that she does not support nixing the 60-vote hurdle, arguing that it would only further divide an already politically polarized nation. 

Biden and other Democratic leaders have made a concerted push to change the Senate rules in order to pass the voting legislation with a simple majority, skirting Republican opposition.

However, Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) opposition to changing the filibuster has dashed Democratic hopes for change in a 50-50 Senate, where every Democratic vote is needed. 

On Saturday, the Kings will join a group from the predominantly Black Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church for the demonstration.

The group will center around the mantra “no celebration without legislation.”

King, the oldest son of Martin Luther King Jr., emphasized in an interview with The Associated Press that the holiday dedicated to his father, which occurs Monday, is “about working,” rather than “a traditional celebration where you kick back, eat barbeque and just relax.”

“Our daughter has less rights around voting than she had when she was born,” King added, according to the AP. “I can’t imagine what my mother and father would say about that. I’m sure they’re turning over and over in their graves about this.”

In her speech this week on the Senate floor, Sinema warned that Republicans could take advantage of a change to the filibuster if they rise to the majority in the future.

“We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy,” said Sinema. 

King criticized Sinema’s decision, saying, “History will remember Sen. Sinema, I believe unkindly, for her position on the filibuster.”

The legislation in question includes the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named after the late Georgia congressman who was a young leader in the civil rights era.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Saturday that she would be joining members of the King family on MLK Day itself in Washington, D.C., at a press conference on voting rights.

Updated at 1:44 p.m.

Tags Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Lewis Kyrsten Sinema Nancy Pelosi

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