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Dr. Martin Luther King: Civil Right No.1 - The Right to Vote

Sarah Bang | Published on 1/18/2021
Today we honor the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, having celebrated the anniversary of his birthday on January 15th. Dr. King was a passionate advocate for Civil Rights, desegregation, racial justice, and voting rights of Black Americans. 

The right to vote of Black Americans was hard won and wasn't protected until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. Dr. King and other visionaries fought against violence, voter suppression, and restrictive voting laws. In an article published in the New York Times in March of 1965, Dr. King outlines the copious hurdles placed between Black Americans and their Constitutional right to vote. 

Many of the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were significantly weakened, lessened, or completely neutralized by the 2013 Supreme Court Decision Shelby vs. Holder. In the wake of this decision, many states opted to re-impose voting laws that that enable states and localities to practice discriminatory actions that restrict the voting rights of millions of Americans. 

The League of Women Voters supports the passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act that would reinstate the protections of the Voting Rights Act. We will continue to fight for the enfranchisement of Americans and work to eliminate voter suppression. Like Dr. King, we maintain that the vote is the cornerstone of a democracy. 

There is work to be done if we are going to honor Dr. King's memory and uphold his legacy.

In his words: "We cannot rest. Laurels have not yet been earned. We must toil on"

March 1965 NYT Article: Martin Luther King and Voting Rights