In a speech commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), a member of the “Squad,” accused her political opponents of weaponizing MLK’s “I Have a Dream” to continue “white supremacy.”
Pressley made the remarks during a virtual event hosted by Boston University and the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. The event focused on celebrating MLK’s birthday and remembering his legacy.
Shortly into her speech, Pressley leveled attacks at her GOP colleagues, accusing them of using MLK’s speech to further a white supremacist agenda. “Throughout this weekend of national observance and in floor speeches from many of my colleagues across the aisle, excerpts from “I Have A Dream” will be weaponized, perverted to justify legislated white supremacy,” she said.
She went on to argue that the progress made by activists like MLK haven’t been “fully realized” because of white moderates and white supremacists.
“And the legislative strides we’ve made, thanks to Dr. King and many more, remain daily under attack. A consequential reality and devastating reminder that gains are not guarantees,” she commented. “Gains are not guarantees when inertia, inaction and insurrection thrive. Gains are not guarantees when the white moderate is complicit and white supremacy emboldened.”
Pressley isn’t the only leftist to accuse her opponents of using MLK quotes with bad intentions. A tweet from the progressive organization Vote Vets stated, “You’re not allowed to quote Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend if you don’t plan on securing voting rights. Just don’t.”
You’re not allowed to quote Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend if you don’t plan on securing voting rights. Just don’t. #BeAHeroForVotingRights
— VoteVets (@votevets) January 15, 2022
“Securing voting rights” means passing the Democrats radical election reform bills, which would mean changing Senate rules to get rid of the filibuster, a move all Republicans and two Democratic senators oppose.
Pressley also directed her MLK speech toward advocating for the Democrats’ voting rights legislation, claiming the filibuster is preserving Jim Crow.
“Jim Crow is not behind us when the Senate filibuster is preserved,” she said. “Jim Crow is not behind us when states laws have been introduced to disenfranchise our voices, to disenfranchise our votes and to silence our voices. Jim Crow is not by behind us and we are still in the Civil Rights Movement when Black home ownership is the lowest it’s been in decades.”
Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters (CA) also pointed to racism being the reason the filibuster is still in place, accusing members of her own party of not caring about black people. “They have sent the signal. They have been clear about it. They don’t care about minorities. They don’t care about blacks. They don’t care about people in their own districts who they’re going to deny their voting rights and undermine their voting rights,” Waters said. “I must always be optimistic. But this is a very difficult time for Democrats.”
Crying racism hasn’t changed any minds yet. Republicans have stayed strong on opposing Democrats’ efforts to change Senate rules. Last week, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned of a “nuclear winter” if the filibuster ended.
“What would a post-nuclear Senate look like?” McConnell asked “I assure you it would not be more efficient or more productive. I personally guarantee it. Do my colleagues understand how many times per day the Senate needs and get unanimous consent for basic housekeeping? Do they understand how many things would require roll-call votes, how often the minority could demand lengthy debate? Our colleagues who are itching for a procedural nuclear winter have not even begun to contemplate how it would look. Our colleagues who are itching to drain every drop of collegiality from this body have not even begun to consider how that would work.”
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