King Family, activists plan marches to put pressure on the Democrats to vote

Still, some expressed optimism.

“I think we’re going to get something, I really do,” said Mr. Tester.

Republicans say the Democrats are only trying to change the electoral playing field for their own benefit, federalizing the traditional state and local role in overseeing elections. They say that if state electoral restrictions are viewed as discriminatory, it is up to the Justice Department to challenge them.

Under the Freedom to Vote Act, Congress would set minimum standards for early and postal voting, make election day a national holiday, and allow voters to submit proof of identity, although ID determination would be less restrictive than this Republicans have imposed. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act aims to restore elements of the groundbreaking voting rights law that was weakened by two Supreme Court rulings.

In a joint interview, the kings portrayed the filibuster, with which southern senators blocked civil rights measures for decades, as a “Jim Crow relic,” which has been used throughout history to deny minority rights, and called for its abolition. They found that decades after their grandfather passed the voting rights law, they still had to stand up for the protection of voting rights for future generations, represented by their 13-year-old daughter, Yolanda Renee King.

“I learned from my mother that every generation has to earn its freedom,” said King. “Freedom is not permanent.”

The groups organizing and participating in the marches include the National Action Network, the National Urban League, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Service Employees International Union, MoveOn, Demos, the Center for Popular Democracy, Voto Latino, Sierra Club, Coalition for Peace, Faith in Public Life, When We All Vote, March For Our Lives, Bend the Arc and the African American Christian Clergy Coalition.

The kings said they would like to cancel the demonstrations should Congress find a way to pass the legislation before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a prospect that seems highly unlikely.

“If so,” said Mrs. King, “then we shall have a wonderful festival on January 17th.”

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