PHOENIX ( Associated Press) — Martin Luther King III came to Arizona with harsh words for Democratic Sen. Kirsten Cinema, whose Senate refusal to change Jim Crow-era filibuster rules makes voting rights legislation unlikely to pass.
King told a crowd campaigning to protect voting rights that cinema cannot simultaneously express support for the law, while also blocking their approval.
“History will remember Sen. Cinema, I believe, for his position on the filibuster,” the civil rights leader’s eldest son said as he prepared to mark the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
With his wife Arndria Waters King; and their daughter Yolanda Renee King, 13, the family joined a march in Phoenix with local activists and supporters of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, a predominantly Black church, and about the importance of “no celebration without the law”. I talked.
“Our daughter has fewer rights to vote than at the time she was born,” King said in an interview. “I can’t even imagine what my parents would say about this. I’m sure they’re going around in their graves about this time and time again.”
Arizona is one of 19 states that have passed more than 30 state voting laws in the past year—including a ban on watering voters in long lines and strict ballot signing requirements—which King calls “drastic.” He said this makes it difficult for people to vote, especially people of color.
Another reason the family moved to Arizona is to send a message to the cinema. President Joe Biden told him and Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to end filibuster rules, which require 60 out of 100 senators to pass most legislation.
Cinema poured cold water That idea made it clear in a dramatic speech on the Senate floor Thursday that while she supports the voting rights law, she will not change filibuster rules to move forward. Filibuster, she said, forces bipartisan cooperation. Otherwise, Republicans can simply repeal and replace when they come to power.
“We must address the disease of division, the disease of division, to protect our democracy,” Cinema said, attracting dismay from fellow Democrats.
The cinema was ridiculed by some of the hundreds who attended Saturday’s rally, when the Rev. Warren Stewart, a prominent black clergy member and activist, said she was “among those … who would hide behind the process.” “
The rally was held at Eastlake Park. which was a gathering place during the decades of secession Blacks are not welcome in other parts of the city.
The Raja family’s plea to pressure cinema to change its mind brings one particularly powerful voice. Progressive groups have put up billboards and broadcast television ads, and activists harassed the cinema in a bathroom at Arizona State University and at a friend’s wedding where the senator worked.
Congressional Democrats have written voting legislation that would herald the biggest change in US elections in a generation by removing barriers to voting created in the name of electoral security. The law would also reduce the influence of big money in politics and limit partisan influence on the depiction of Congressional districts.
It also included the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill that would strengthen civil rights-era voting law and honor the legacy of the late Georgia congressman.
Supporters expected the law to go ahead until Monday’s MLK holiday. Still encouraged, King urged people to act like sign petitions or call their senators. The holiday “is not a traditional celebration where you kick back, eat barbecue and just relax,” he said. “It’s about getting things done.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had been working closely with Martin Luther King Jr. as a young man, said Friday he was concerned about the current lack of political consensus on voting rights. Earlier, Republicans and Democrats in Washington voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with both sides recognizing the historic nature of the law.
“The right to vote was the crown jewel of the civil rights struggle,” Jackson said in a phone interview, adding that “we are in a desperate situation.”
Ultimately, he agrees with members of the King family who are pushing for MLK Day celebrations to take a different tone unless Congress acts on the voting rights bill.
“There’s no time to celebrate,” Jackson said. “It is time to demonstrate, march in large numbers. We cannot simply be silent observers in this fight. ,
Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper and Paul Davenport and Aaron Morrison in New York contributed to this report.