What would the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. march for if he were alive today?
America has made progress on many fronts in the half-century since King electrified a crowd of 200,000 people, and millions of Americans watching on television, with his “I Have a Dream” address at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. But there is still much to do to achieve his vision of equality.
Fortunately, many Americans are involved in grass-roots movements that follow in his footsteps. King began his activism as a crusader against racial segregation, but he soon recognized that his battle was part of a much broader fight for a more humane society. Today, at age 84, King would no doubt still be on the front lines, lending his voice and his energy to major battles for justice.
Voting rights: Along with other civil rights leaders, King fought hard to dismantle Jim Crow laws that kept blacks from voting. He was proud of his role in pushing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965. He’d be outraged by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling to weaken the law that, among other things, increased the number of black voters and black elected officials.
Since that ruling, a movement has burgeoned to stop states’ efforts to require photo IDs in order to vote, shrink the early-voting period, and end same-day voter registration and pre-registration for teenagerswho will turn 18 by Election Day. Today, King might lend his name to these campaigns and join the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina, where thousands have opposed that state’s efforts to restrict voting rights.