Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated on Monday in the U.S. as the federal holiday was introduced in the 1980s to celebrate the life of the civil rights leader. The current U.S. President Joe Biden used his official speech honoring the day to publically push in favor of a pair of voting rights bills which, according to Democrats, would expand democracy across the nation; on the other hand, Republicans fear would be an insult to state rights.
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“Last week, Vice President Harris and I visited Atlanta, Georgia, the cradle of civil rights in America. We paused and prayed at the crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King. We met members of their family…We met students who are changing the world just like generations of young people before they had done that. In fact, Dr. King was just one of those young people – [a] 15-year-old student at Morehouse College when he began his journey to fulfill the promise of an America for all Americans, a promise that holds that we’re all created equal, and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives,” Biden said during his address.
“Dr. King wasn’t just a dreamer of that promise, he was a doer. And on this federal holiday that honors him, it’s not just enough to praise him, we must commit to his unfinished work to deliver jobs and justice, to protect the sacred right to vote, the right from which all other rights flow,” stated the president.
Referring to the attacks against U.S. democracy Biden said that, “from the January 6 insurrection to the onslaught of Republicans’ anti-voting laws in some state,” he added that “it’s no longer just about who gets to vote, it’s about who gets to count the vote, and whether your vote counts at all.”
He noted that Dr. King had “held a mirror up to America” and urged the people to reflect on who they are as a nation, arguing that the country is facing a similar moment. “The question being asked again: where do we stand? Whose side are we on? Will we stand against voter suppression? Yes or no? Will we stand against election subversion? Yes or no?” he questioned.
“I know where I stand. And it’s time for every elected official in America to make it clear where they stand. It’s time for every American to stand up, speak out, be heard. Where do you stand? Whose side are you on? On this day of remembrance, service, and action, may God bless Dr. And Mrs. King and their family. And may God bless you all. And may God protect our troops,” concluded the president.
Last week the bills passed to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, and the Senate granted a slim partial majority of support. GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Never Trumper, supported the John Lewis bill, but not the Freedom to Vote bill. To get the bills passed, Democrats required 60 votes, where most Republicans have tried to block the legislation.