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Nearly six decades after the March on Washington that saw Martin Luther King Jr deliver his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, the civil rights hero’s eldest son will be leading a march against voter suppression.
Martin Luther King III and Rev Al Sharpton are set to hold a nationwide march in defence of voting rights on 28 August – the 58th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
Dubbed “March On for Voting Rights”, plans for the demonstration come after Republicans blocked a sweeping voting rights bill on Tuesday that would have made it easier for people to cast their ballots in elections.
The bill, known as the For The People Act, sought to set minimum standards for voting in the US and establish Election Day as a federal holiday, among other changes to make voting easier.
All 50 Republican senators, however, voted against advancing the bill, with GOP Sen Mike Lee saying the legislation was “written in hell by the devil”.
Republicans had expressed widespread opposition to the measure, arguing that they felt it was designed to help Democrats succeed in future elections.
Mr King lamented the outcome of Tuesday’s vote, writing in a tweet on Tuesday that “while the Senate may have blocked the passage of the #ForThePeopleAct, America is ready to stand up for #votingrights and for democracy”.
“Like my father did in the 1960s, we will organise and mobilise to ensure that every citizen has the equal right and opportunity to vote,” he said.
While the Senate may have blocked the passage of the #ForThePeopleAct, America is ready to stand up for #votingrights and for democracy.
Like my father did in the 1960s, we will organize and mobilize to ensure that every citizen has the equal right and opportunity to vote.
— Martin Luther King III (@OfficialMLK3) June 22, 2021
The “March On for Voting Rights” event also comes as state lawmakers across the country move towards tighter voting restrictions, with march organisers asserting that just under 390 bills aimed at restricting voting access have been introduced across 48 states since the 2020 presidential election.
In a separate statement, Mr King said his father would be “greatly disappointed in where we are at this particular moment, but he would not give up on the nation”.
“He believed in the power of people, the power of young people, and the power of change to come, and I am proud to support March On for Voting Rights to help carry out that change and recommit ourselves to finishing my father’s unfinished work,” Mr King said.
Demonstrations are set to take place in cities across the country, including in Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix and Miami. There will also be a march in Washington, D.C.
The day of action is being held in partnership with the Drum Major Institute, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Sharpton’s National Action Network, and the Future Coalition.