We can only imagine what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would say were he to look upon America in the present day and see its political fracture.
We would think that Dr. King, a man of unwavering courage, determination and peace who devoted his life to the pursuit of equal rights for every American, would shudder at the voter suppression efforts happening across this country.
Dr. King was on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and his efforts helped pave the way for not only the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, but also the ratification of the 24th Amendment, which abolished poll taxes that Southern states used to prevent Black Americans from voting.
Today, voter suppression has taken on numerous other forms. States controlled by Republican governments are now closing poll sites, restricting their hours of operation and even imposing restrictions for people waiting to stand on line to vote.
Trump-loving Republicans are even trying to control who counts the votes, with some states flirting with allowing state legislatures to override the results of a presidential election by appointing their own electors for the candidates of their choice, not the voters.
And there’s further evidence, through an indictment of 11 members of the right-wing militant group the Oath Keepers last week, that the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol was a “seditious conspiracy” aimed at forcibly overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Democracy is under attack in America, from within, like never before. We believe Dr. King would undoubtedly feel the despair many Americans feel these days in witnessing such an orchestrated effort to suppress the right to vote — something that generations of freedom fighters and freedom riders fought so hard to defend, risking and sometimes giving their own lives in the process.
But were he with us today, we know that Dr. King would be among the loudest of voices in America countering the flood of lies and anti-Americanism with truth and a devout love of country.
He would want not just the government to act, but all freedom-loving, truly patriotic Americans to take a stand against the autocracy in our midst — and to do so peacefully.
Regardless of our backgrounds, we must recognize the threats to our democracy and the right to vote — and act, as Dr. King would have, to oppose them wherever they arise. This is no time for good people to remain silent; we must all speak out.
As he said in February 1968, just two months before his assassination, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”