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January 17, 2022

Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s Statement on Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

BOSTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued the following statement marking the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday: 

“Many will spend today quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and reducing his legacy to that of a peaceful protestor who ‘had a dream,’ while ignoring his bold, radical vision for revolutionary change. They will celebrate him in word but remain idle as the voices of Black folks nationwide are silenced by racist and discriminatory voter suppression policies. Like so many, they will tell themselves that the oppressive practices of the Jim Crow era are behind us. 

“But the progress we’ve made, thanks to Dr. King and others, remains under attack daily—a sobering reminder that gains are not guarantees. The unprecedented assault on our democracy and our sacred right to vote make plain that we are still in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. As we reflect on the legacy and contributions of Dr. King, we must put actions behind our words and move with urgency in the ongoing fight for justice and our collective liberation. 

“To truly honor Dr. King—who recognized the Jim Crow filibuster as a barrier to progress—and claim our place on the right side of history, we must abolish the filibuster so we can pass meaningful voting rights legislation, keep power in the hands of the people, and legislate to address the many crises our communities face. I’m pleased the President and Vice President are taking long-overdue action and I’m glad the House moved swiftly to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and Freedom to Vote Act. The Senate must follow suit. 

“The only thing that matters in this moment are policies and budgets, and we must legislate like our democracy depends on it, because it does. We have the solutions, and it’s time for my colleagues—both Democrat and Republican—to finally display the political will and political courage to get this done.” 

This weekend, Rep. Pressley delivered remarks on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday at an event hosted by Boston University and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, of which Dr. King was a member. In her remarks, Rep. Pressley discussed Dr. King’s full and true legacy and reminded us that we are still in the Civil Rights Movement. A transcript of her remarks is available here, and the full video is available here.