On Martin Luther King Day, we honor Dr. King’s lifetime of work to move our reluctant nation forward on civil rights. We honor the people of courage and action who built a movement from Birmingham, to Selma, to Washington, DC.
But as we look back on Dr. King’s legacy and all that he fought for, we also look forward to the work that still needs doing. The people’s sacred right to vote -- their voice in our democracy -- is still under attack today.
Here in North Carolina‘s 9th District, recent eyewitness accounts paint a sad picture of what happened in the 2018 election. One voter says a person came to her doorstep and took her absentee ballot. Another says she gave her ballot to a man at a polling site who was collecting ballots for elections workers. Their votes were never counted.
Mounting evidence suggests that what was done to these voters was done to hundreds or even thousands of voters in the rural counties of eastern North Carolina. African American and Native American communities were specifically targeted. A systematic effort to steal people’s voices involved not just a political operative, but officials who turned a blind eye.
As much as Dr. King fought against injustice, he fought against something else, just as dangerous. Our own silence. “If you fail to act now,” he said, “history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
To honor Dr. King’s legacy, it’s on all of us to carry on his work and speak out for the people’s right to vote.