Today marks 43 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. Donna Brazile, DNC Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation, urges us to “reflect on King's life and legacy -- and ask ourselves how well we are carrying on his vision of social, political and economic justice for all Americans.”
Brazile writes of King’s accomplishments, and the extraordinary times in which he lived.
During his life, King had witnessed dramatic change: brave Americans demonstrating nonviolently for equality, a Supreme Court recognizing that separate is not equal justice under law, and a federal government courageously passing the Voting Rights Act, despite its political consequences, because it was the right thing to do.
Noting that the “climb to equality is always difficult,” Brazile highlights the failure of Republicans to deliver on their campaign promises and their decision to begin “an attack on American freedoms, with assaults on organized labor and the right to vote.” Brazile writes:
In King's time, there were poll taxes and literacy tests. Now, restrictive photo ID bills are the avant-garde method of suppressing the vote. Texas Gov. Rick Perry even fast-tracked photo ID law as "emergency" legislation….Not to be outdone by their brethren in Wisconsin or Texas, Ohio Republicans are pushing through a controversial photo ID bill without significant debate. Because, as election law expert Daniel Tokaji wrote, there is an "utter lack of evidence that the new ID bill would address any real problem," Ohio Republicans are falling back on trickery to get their bill passed: ramming it through while the rest of the state focuses on the fight over collective bargaining.
And, Brazile notes, Republicans won’t be satisfied with just passing unnecessary and disenfranchising photo ID laws:
New Hampshire Republicans (and their Tea Party allies) tried to disenfranchise the state's college students. In Colorado, Missouri and Arizona, Republicans support onerous "proof-of-citizenship" bills that erect barriers to keep Hispanic voters at home on election day.
Calling these efforts “an attempt to permanently change our great country,” Brazile concludes:
King's vision is for all of us; no one person or party has license over it. But as state leaders around the country are busting unions, making it more difficult for people of color to vote and intentionally subverting the Voting Rights Act, I can feel my feet slipping on the ground beneath and I can feel our country falling back.
You can read the full post here.