Things That Matter

Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Descendants Are Teaming Up To Fight Voter Suppression

The descendants of two American civil rights heroes — Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez — are teaming up to fight against voter suppression. Dr. King Jr’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, and Cesar Chavez’s grandson, Alejandro Chavez, are joining forces for March On for Voting Rights.

March On For Voting Rights will be held in Washington D.C. on August 28th, the 58th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

March On For Voting Rights was created in response to the influx of voter suppression laws that have swept state and local governments as of late. Republican legislators have insisted that they are passing these voter suppression laws to ensure more “safe and fair elections.” But Democratic lawmakers say that these laws are simply a smokescreen to disenfranchise Black and brown voters.

“What elected officials in many states have done around this nation, including the states where our five flagship marches are taking place, is introduce over 400 bills to suppress voting rights,” Martin Luther King III told The Chicago Sun Tribune.

Other than the large march that is expected to draw thousands in Washington D.C. “March On For Voting Rights” will have “flagship marches” in other states.

The four other states that have been the most affected by voter suppression laws are Arizona, Georgia, Texas, and Florida. Alejandro Chavez will be spearheading the march in Tucson, Arizona.

Voter suppression laws come up with creative ways to disenfranchise minorities — communities that are more likely to vote Blue but have a harder time getting to the polls.

Some voter suppression laws require documents to prove citizenship or identification. Others make it a crime to provide food and/or water to voters who sometimes have to spend hours upon hours waiting in line to cast their votes. There are also laws that “purge” voter rolls of legitimately registered voters for petty reasons, like intelligible writing. These laws also target and limit mail-in voting–a method of voting that marginalized people rely on due to lack of transportation and packed schedules. All of these laws work to disenfranchise millions of people.

Alejandro Chavez stressed the need for the movement to be a multiracial, multiethnic one if true change is to be made.

“When we think back to Martin’s father’s work and my grandfather’s work, people were not moved by Black and Brown people only protesting. It’s when they saw young white faces, when white people stopped buying produce, when white people started attending the marches, that legislators and elected bodies started to stand up.”

“August 28th is not the end of it, it’s just the beginning,” said Chavez in an MSNBC appearance. “It’s the launching part into the rest of the year, the next two years. Not only getting people registered to vote, but making plans in case laws don’t change.

“Even if [politicians] don’t feel the urgency, it’s on us…I said this before and I’ll say it again: this is our ‘I have a dream’ moment. This is our ‘Si Se Puede’ moment. We must now act to defend our democracy or lose it forever.”

You can get more information about August 28th’s “March On For Voting Rights” on their website, marchonforvotingrights.org.

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