King Family Says Holiday is No Cause for Celebration

Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., his daughter Yolanda Renee King, and wife Arndrea Waters King during a demonstration to press for voting rights in Phoenix on January 15, 2022.

Washington — Long known as a holiday dedicated to service as “a day on, not a day off,” this Martin Luther King Jr. Day is taking on renewed significance as voting rights legislation faces seemingly insurmountable hurdles in Congress.

“Be engaged. Right now, it is about protecting, preserving and expanding voting rights,” Martin Luther King III told CBS News. 

“We’re calling for no celebration without legislation,” his wife, Arndrea Waters King, added. “We can’t celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. without having the legislation, the cornerstone of his legacy, the cornerstone of our democracy, solidified.”

The couple and their 13-year-old daughter, Yolanda Renee King, were capping a weekend of mobilizations that included a march in Phoenix Saturday with a peace walk in Washington D.C. Monday. The King family is being joined by a coalition of more than 180 groups and congressional leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Representative Joyce Beatty. 

“We’ve seen what happens when the White House puts its full weight behind an issue,” Waters King said, referring to passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill last year. “What we also are saying to the president and Congress is that you delivered for bridges, now deliver for voting — whatever it takes to get that done.”

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