DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ADDRESSES THE SENATE ON VOTING RIGHTS

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WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. January 17, 2022:

Editor’s Note: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is today. However, his spirit  could not appear at the usual King breakfast in White Plains cancelled  because of Covid.

There was a more important proceeding that is actually not proceeding why his spirit is dimmed this day .

He is in the Nation’s Capitol before a joint session of congress called at Dr. King’s request. 

He had to appear in Washington D.C. today to address a joint session of the United States Senate on a situation of utmost importance to every man and woman of any color, position and race.

 The man who spearheaded the civil rights movement in the 1960s has traveled on our behalf to address the President, the Senators, the Congress on the impending roll back of voting rights that could apply to every person, no matter who they are, unless the Senate acts to vote on the bill.

The session has been gaveled to order by the Vice President. President Biden is standing awaiting for Reverend King’s introduction. It will be interesting how Dr. King approaches the divided Senate which is at an impasse on the Voting Rights bill.  It has been striking how few members of the joint houses have issued statements on Dr. King’s Birthday.  Dr. King has appeared. A solo figure at the entrance to the Senate chamber. Applause starts. Here is the President:

“I am proud to welcome to the Senate chambers, The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr.”

(Applause sustained, rising to a crescendo. Dr. King in black suit, black tie, is walking slowly down the aisle hands at his sides turning his head left to right, acknowledging the Senators with nods of his head. He looks the same as he did when when we lost him to an assassin’s bullet in 1968.

The steadfast eyes that appear always focused on the sky, the big hands at his side. The  din of applause is unlike any this reporter has ever heard in the Senate chamber. Dr. King approaches the podium circles and is welcomed by President Biden. Then Dr. King turns and approaches podium, rises. Looking at Senators, he acknowledges his accolade. He has no notes. No teleprompter. Now, Reverend King is about to begin. Here we go:)

“President Biden, Distinguished Senators, Republicans, Democrats, Vice President Harris, thank you on this historic moment in the history of the United States for inviting me to address you today. Today is a time where  to paraphrase Charles Dickens, observer of another tumultuous time, that is the best of times it is the worst of times.

In my life on Earth I was fortunate to advance the cause of the Black Man resulting in the desegregation of schools, and emboldening more awareness of their rights and a new effort grew more fairness, restricting segregation in employment, housing, and increased programs for the Black Man.

This era since the mid-1960s has seen the greatest expansion of the economy, housing, education and success America has ever achieved.

I ask is it just a coincidence that this prosperity has come parallel to expanding education for those long denied equal education, training, and equal opportunity employment, and has seen more leaders of minorities elected to offices  for the first time?

  Parallel to this came the move for women’s equality that has greatly  fueled the American Economic Engine  the last 60 years.  Our workplaces became more like the faces of America: white, Irish, Jewish, black, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Indian. More than at any other time, America today is the work of  the votes of these citizens, because they could hold politicians accountable. They had freedom.

They voted for Republicans for President, Democrats for President, they decided.

You sit there before me and I ask you to dream another dream of the future of what will happen if the voting rights being denied by some 36 states through selective rules for registering voters and how votes are done are not preserved in the Voting Rights Bill you have before you. 

I have a very different dream for states applying measures denying votes, requiring identification, proof of citizenship, all designed to make it impossible for persons present (elected officials) feel would not vote for them.

Let us tell it like it is:  not vote for white politicians— would suffer a departure of persons of all nationalities (targeted by these measures) that would hurt the state workforce quality, ability and earnings potential.

(A wash of boos ,with vigorous applause)

How are you going to entice persons of the race you want in your workforce if they are going into a state that harasses Mexicans, Haitians, Muslims, Blacks, Indians, Asians for identification, restricted voting hours, only in-person voting.

I see a vast declaration  of independence by persons blatantly targeted by states seeking to preserve their whiteness in government and politicians in office who think that way and exclude persons of other races from voting.

(Catcalls, mixed with applause, applause slightly louder)

Senators and Congresspersons, I direct you to other consequences of suppression of voting rights: economics.

If you restrict voting  and gerrymander districts to create a state unfriendly to change or to address their needs they are going to be poorer and not spend as much money. Your economies will not grow. Without a workforce educated and successful and involved, you will have nothing to offer companies. Your ability to tax will decline because you will have less people.

(Boos cascade)

I have a greater dream today. When I and you see where America is today, what a more equal fair and accepting society we built the last 50 years, that I believe is what you have to see.

American is not worse for bringing the oppressed from other countries into our country. The facts are there to prove it. They build businesses, they serve in our restaurants, they host television shows, become doctors and nurses who have fought us through Covid.

The politics of hate and division have been with us just five years. Enyoying a horrifying atmosphere reminiscent of the Jim Crow era.

The endorsement of hate was introduced by the worst President of this country ever, Donald Trump, who sparked mass shootings of minorities ,school children. Instead of lynchings we now do shootings. We have heard on this Senate floor heinous threats of Senators on Senators.

(Wait Dr. King is raising his hand, pointing his finger. You can hear a pin drop, ladies and gentlemen.)

Now, I have a dream that must become real, this body should not be remembered as the one that took away voting rights in the United States of America.

This Senate should not be the one that strikes from the Constitution, Article 15, ratified in 1870 on February 3, 152 years ago. 

(Voices are buzzing in the crowd, the tension is thick.)

  1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude
  2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

(Roars, boos, applause intense, impassioned, vigorous fills the chamnber, I do not believe what I just heard, ladies and gentlemen.)

Is this Senate going to take the responsibility for surpressing the vote in elections this fall?

Ask yourself Republicans who have stood on the side of decency before, can you not summon an ounce of courage to vote to eliminate the filibuster. It just takes 2 of you, How about you Mitt Romney and Susan Collins? Just two.

Send it to the floor. Let the Senate have its say

Then you all will own it.

There’s a dream I want you to realize tonight.

Better yet all Republicans should vote yes to eliminate the filibuster, then bring the Voting Rights to the floor, with the proviso that the filibuster will be reinstated.

There I have given you a way to do it.

There’s even a greater dream. The Republicans can all vote to eliminate the filibuster and then repudiate the hate I saw in the 1960s by unanimously approving the bill, shaming the two Democrats refusing to vote to preserve voting rights.

(There is awed silence, ladies and gentleman.)

You do not have to be afraid, Republicans and Democrats. It is the easiest and the right way out of this fear of Trump wrath. He has no power unless you give it to him.

Right now he is a plantation owner who has enslaved you to do his bidding under threat of flogging. You are as enslaved as the Negroes of the past.

(A din of angry boos coming from the Republican side of the Senate, ladies and gentlemen, some are walking out. Dr King waiting until the din subsides. He is reaching under the podium, he is withdrawing a book. It is The Bible)

I dream that all 100 of you have a sense –conscience and an awareness of history. An awareness of the holiness of the vote.

I suggest you listen to your mind tonight the voice within telling you what you should do.  Please do not send America back to repression of the past and pave the way for God knows what.

May the almighty guide your decision.

I know, I KNOW, this dream has to come true, for persons white, Negro, Latino, Indian, Asian, Muslim, Arabic all the citizens and people who are in America because they love what it stands for and will always stand for –for them

Thank you.

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