Let’s Honor MLK Jr. With Action, Not a Quote

Julian Wasser, Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

It’s not that I don’t find Martin Luther King Jr.’s words inspiring. I do.

It’s just that posting a quote and calling it a day seems like a terrible way to honor the civil rights icon. I’m guessing he’d rather all of us work to make sure his dream gets realized, instead of posting quotes from his famous speech.

And after the insurrection on January 6, I think we can all agree that there is a lot we need to do to inject MORE democracy into our country.

As regular readers of Political Charge know, expanding voting rights is one of my signature issues. I recently re-read MLK Jr.’s speech, Give Us the Ballot, where he so eloquently spoke about why ensuring every Black citizen’s ability to vote without barriers was so important. What I find notable is that he spends half of his speech encouraging the audience to push for changes, even in the face of negative consequences they could experience for doing so.

Even before the insurrection, I shared the concern with many others in the activist community that winning the White House might make voters complacent again. That the energy of the “Resistance” would disappear once we had control of the White House. Now that we have unified control over the federal government, we have an opportunity to strengthen our democracy and I’m hoping that people see that this is no time to back off from being an engaged citizen.

We need to be in touch with our elected officials, both in the federal government, and even more importantly, in our state and local governments. The more local the official, the more power you have to get things accomplished. I encourage you to reflect on the past four years, and the issues that you find to be the most important in this moment in our country’s history. Make a commitment to yourself to find time every week to be in touch with your representatives about that issue (or issues.)

I’d love to hear from you — let me know what issue you will be focusing on, and how you plan to take action. Let us live our lives in a way that we wouldn’t be described by MLK Jr as having “an anemia of deeds” as he called some of the politicians of his era.

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4 replies

  1. Being quotatious by nature and design does not prevent my appreciation of or my agreement with this marvelous post. Thank-you!

  2. Dear TS, while this is not much of a problem here in Canada (that I am aware of), one of my biggest problems where America is concerned is the blatant gerrymandering of electoral ridings that belittle the Black ballot, and give unwarranted power to the White ballot.
    This cannot be allowed to continue. I understand electoral ridings are designed at the state level, but that is no excuse to continue this abuse of Black, or other designated voters. Please fight to make all riding have natural boundaries–natural in that they are UNMANIPULATED for political purposes.
    This is probably one of the most shameful ploys of American (read Republican) policies. Nor should electoral boundaries be drawn to separate wealthy areas from povery-stricken areas. If an elected official is going to represent THE PEOPLE, they must represent ALL PEOPLE, not just the ones like them, or the ones who fund their campaigns. (Certainly this DOES happen in Canada too, and pisses me off!)
    I do not know how to go about ridding politics of gerrymandering in America, but it greatly and vocally needs to be challenged. I do hope you agree with me, and give it your voice!

    • Yes, gerrymandering is a scourge on our democracy. I consider it to be under the umbrella of voting rights and have written about it regularly here on the blog. You’ll be happy to hear that HR1, which the Democrats passed in the last Congress and is being reintroduced in this Congress, tackles a host of voting rights issues.

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