No celebration without legislation

Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Brand New Congress joins Dr. King’s family in their call to action issued to Congress.

Today, we celebrate the service, leadership, and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the face of the worst sustained assault on voting rights since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Dr. King’s family has issued a clarion call to action – and Brand New Congress is joining them.

There can be no celebration without legislation.

Today the same politicians who are waging an open war on our rights will undoubtedly issue empty platitudes about Dr. King’s life.

They will call him a hero and share quotes about love and togetherness even as they tear us apart.

And lest we take comfort in the notion that it is only Republicans opposing our efforts, remember King’s warning about “the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.”

Nowhere are the diseases of decorum and incrementalism more on display than in the United States Senate, where only two Black men serve and not a single Black woman is represented – and where a few white ‘moderate’ Democrats have completely (and irrationally) shut down any action on voting rights.

Meeting with these so-called moderates this week, President Biden said, “Without voting rights, there are no rights.”

The president is right. We are facing a dire, make-or-break moment for our democracy. Since the 2020 election, when Black voters delivered the White House and Senate majority to Democrats, hundreds of voter suppression bills have been introduced in every single state in the country.

In the last year, 19 states have enacted a total of 34 laws to restrict voting access in ways that disproportionately impact Black and Latino communities.

But these laws are only the tip of the iceberg. The real work to dilute and divide the power of Black and Brown voters is the gerrymandering happening in every single state right now.

From New Jersey to Tennessee, from Seattle to Beaumont, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are carving up Black and Brown communities to split their votes and divide their power.

These shadowy, back-room deals will determine who represents these communities at the local, state, and federal levels for at least the next 10 years.

The lethal combination of gerrymandering and voting restrictions threatens to drag us back to the days of Jim Crow, and make it easier than ever for right-wing extremists to grab political power.

This is the moment we must decide which side we are on. Are you on the side of liberation, or do you stand for continued oppression?

Kyrsten Sinema stood as an oppressor last week. That’s why I’m proud to be working to elect three powerful Black progressives to the United States Senate.

Morgan Harper, Charles Booker, and Malcolm Kenyatta are each running for seats currently held by the GOP.

When elected, they become the new swing votes in the Senate that will allow us to eliminate the Jim Crow filibuster and get some work done.

I am forever grateful for Dr. King’s leadership in the face of legalized injustice across America. Today, we continue the fight for voting rights and we still embrace the dream.

Give us the ballot,

Adrienne Bell

Adrienne Bell

Adrienne Bell

Adrienne Bell is a teacher, a longtime community organizer, and the Executive Director of Brand New Congress.