Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter used an address Monday to push for federal voting rights legislation and slam the twisting of critical race theory to create what she called “false narratives.”
Rev. Bernice King said there is a “very urgent need” for voting legislation, and that it is “crucial to humanity across the globe that the United States of America stands as a democratic nation.” Her remarks came ahead of a scheduled visit Tuesday to Georgia by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to talk about voting rights.
“I also know that there are many people who are not as urgently concerned about that unfortunately," King said during the address at The King Center in Atlanta to announce events for the upcoming holiday in honor of her father. "There's a wind of discontent for some and a wave of apathy for others that has settled into the hearts and minds of not only an increasing number of people in the United States, but throughout the world.”
Voting legislation backed by Democrats is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate in the face of Republican opposition, and the party is mounting an effort to change the chamber’s rules to get it passed. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer D-N.Y., has set the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 17 as the deadline to either pass the voting legislation or consider revising the rules. King said she was frustrated by the lack of progress on voting rights, but she believed legislation would pass and urged dialogue with Republicans.
“This is not just a Black issue,” she said. “This is an issue about democracy.”
King also addressed critical race theory, a way of thinking about America’s history that centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society. Republican-controlled states have invoked it in legislation restricting how race can be taught in public schools, and it's become a lightning rod for the GOP.
She said the nation needed a shift in priorities that “helps us understand we can’t commemorate my father on the one hand while also promoting false narratives under the banner of critical race theory.”
She added: "CRT is not the problem. Racism is the problem, poverty or extreme materialism is the problem and militarism, war is the problem.”
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