Had Martin Luther King Jr. not been gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, while visiting that city to try and help sanitation workers obtain a livable wage, he would turn 93 years old on Jan. 15.

His legacy of nonviolent resistance, fighting for civil rights and equality for what he termed “Black and Brown people” is a fight that continues to this day.

One of the key bills he fought for is no longer valid, struck down June 25, 2013, by a right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court in a ruling now commonly referred to as Shelby Co. vs. Holder. In that ruling, the court sent forever to the history books important guardrails that had been created by passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Voting Rights Act required Southern states that had historically used Jim Crow tactics since Reconstruction to limit Black and Brown citizens’ access to the voting booth to obtain pre-clearance from the U.S. Justice Department for any changes in their state elections laws.

With a growing number of misled Americans believing the 2020 presidential election is invalid, many states have rushed to enact laws that will make it even more difficult for minorities to vote.

In Georgia, for example, its newfangled voting coup allows state officials to go to any of its 159 county elections boards and simply take them over. Georgia officials have done this so far in counties that have majority-minority populations, including Fulton County, the seat of state government.

This is also the same county in which pro-Trump officials accused an elections worker of stealing votes. Since that unfounded accusation, as Reuters reported in December 2021, Ruby Freeman had to go into hiding to save her own life.

“Death threats from angry Trump supporters forced Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman, a 62-year-old grandmother, to flee her home of 20 years. Some messages called for her hanging; one urged people to ‘hunt’ her. Freeman showed hundreds of menacing messages to police and called 911 three times,” according to the report.

Oftentimes, the answer is right in front of our faces.

That answer continues to be, as we have stated on this page before, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Both bills would end “dark money” donations and increase access to voting, which is, after all, the linchpin of American democracy. Lewis was a confidant of King’s and was there with King on many marches and nonviolent actions, including the historic march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the march on Selma, Alabama.

“The Freedom to Vote Act also advances civil rights and racial justice. It restores federal voting rights to returning citizens who have been released from prison after serving their sentences. The bill includes targeted protections to ensure underserved and vulnerable communities, such as those with disabilities and Native Americans, aren’t disenfranchised through no fault of their own,” according to the Brennan Center.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted this week to send the Freedom to Vote Act to the divided U.S. Senate where Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is one of the bill’s co-sponsors. Manchin even spent hours working on the bill in an attempt to make it bipartisan.

However, since Republicans continue to resist the change by disparaging the bill as a federal takeover of state elections, they continue to fail the voting public. No Republican has come forward to offer an alternative to the Freedom to Vote Act.

All the public keeps hearing about is protecting Senate rules, which speaks of plain and simple politics, not governing, not advancing America forward, which is every lawmakers’ job. It’s time the conversation shifts to protecting democracy — plain and simple.

What you do, Sen. Manchin, speaks so loudly we cannot hear what you say.

Stand up for America, not some contrived thing called the filibuster.

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