Progressives Counter Pick Quotes With True MLK Legacy

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As the FBI, right-wing politicians and others came under fire Monday for engaging in the annual trend of disgracing Martin Luther King Jr. by sanitizing his beliefs, congressional progressives worked to honor his legacy as struggle for a fairer society.

“Let’s not just celebrate the man, but remember the values ​​and the vision that drove him.”

Sharing some of her remarks at a 2019 MLK event, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) Underline that the slain civil rights icon “spoke openly about American imperialism, union organizing and labor rights, economic issues, etc.,” and faced intense backlash.

“People say the sacrifice King made was his life, which is true but…it wasn’t just the end of his life,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the time. “The way he lived his life was a sacrifice. He was called a communist. He was targeted. He was bugged by the FBI.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) also drew attention to “the Dr. King you don’t often hear about,” noting that he was an “anti-war, anti-poverty socialist radical who was denounced by newspapers, experts and politicians of all persuasions.

Omar share an excerpt from King’s historic speech condemning the Vietnam War, delivered on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his death. Speaking from Riverside Church in New York, he said “we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution in values”.

“We must quickly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a people-oriented society,” he said, “when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being defeated.”

New York University historian and professor Thomas J. Sugrue opined of King in 2019 that “there is probably no figure in recent American history whose memory is more distorted, whose message is more faded or whose powerful words are more empty of content”.

Echoing that sentiment on Monday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) tweeted that “every #MLKDay, some will choose quotes from Dr. King and reduce his legacy to that of a peaceful protester with a dream. He was indeed a prophetic leader and an early architect of the civil rights movement, but there is much more to his story.”

“We often see excerpts from ‘I Have a Dream’ weaponized and perverted to justify legislated white supremacy,” the MP continued, referencing one of her famous speeches. “But the truth is, Dr. King was a radical dreamer with a bold vision for revolutionary change. A disruptive movement builder seeking to overturn an unjust status quo.”

The US holiday to remember King comes amid growing concerns about US democracy, which have fueled pressure to pass a pair of federal voting rights bills. MLK’s family on Monday made calls for the Senate to strike down the filibuster in order to move the legislation forward.

Along with sharing clips and quotes from King, progressive lawmakers reiterated their demands to enact the John R. Lewis Freedom to Vote Act and Voting Rights Advancement Act.

“I am the example of the King family”, noted Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Rather than celebrate, I’m organizing — I’m calling on my colleagues in the Senate to do the right thing and honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by passing suffrage legislation.”

“Each time we take up the torch and continue the fight for social, racial and economic justice, including upholding the sacred right to vote, Dr. King’s dream lives on,” declared Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “Today we honor his life and his legacy, and we are called to fight against the forces of hate.”

King “taught us that the dream of freedom could only come true when every person had a fair and equal vote at the ballot box”, noted Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). “We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Free Suffrage Act now, and we need to crack down on the filibuster to do that.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) affirmed that “the best way to honor the pillars of equality and anti-racism” that King fought for is to pass both bills, which seek to “stop GOP voter suppression tactics “.

MLK girl and others have in recent days shared his remarks about the 1963 filibuster amid debates over federal civil rights legislation.

“I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from voting,” King said. “They won’t let the majority of senators vote. And they certainly wouldn’t want the majority of people to vote, because they know they don’t represent the majority of the American people.”

Noting these comments, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) noted“Let us honor the words and legacy of Dr. King with action. I am working to reform the filibuster so that the Senate can move forward and pass the Free Vote Act and the advancement of John Lewis voting rights.”

Tweeting excerpts from his 1957 “Give Us the Ballot” speech, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) warned that King’s legacy “is being taken for granted.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (DN.Y.) said in a lengthy statement about King that “as our nation faces vicious attacks on suffrage, we are especially reminded of the lessons he left for us. “.

Bowman continued:

In his letter from Birmingham jail, he responds to those who call his non-violent direct actions “premature” and “reckless”, saying: “We know from painful experience that freedom is never given voluntarily. by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. In our mission to protect our right to vote, we cannot accept “no” or “wait” for an answer.

We know from our history that when people and institutions tell us “wait,” it often means never… With over 262 voter suppression bills introduced in 41 states already, we can’t afford to lose any more time… It’s time to end the filibuster and protect our right to vote.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), in an email to supporters, wrote that “as the nation honors the legacy of Dr. King, it would be easy for us to assume that he was universally admired and respected by the establishment during his lifetime. . Nothing could be further from the truth.”

After highlighting some of the icon’s actions in service of his “transformative vision for what our country and the world can become,” Sanders explained that “my hope is that we will truly remember what he stood for.”

“Let’s stop voter suppression and allow people to fully participate in our democracy,” the senator wrote. “Let’s invest in jobs and education, not in prisons and incarceration. Realize that a great nation is not judged by the size of its military budget, but by how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable citizens.

“Let us secure health care as a right for every man, woman and child in this country. Let us have, as Dr. King said, a ‘better distribution of wealth in this country for all of God’s children,'” he added. “Let’s not just celebrate the man, but remember the values ​​and the vision that drove him.”

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