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Young activists on the importance of voting access

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Voting Right March
Carolyn Kaster
/
AP
A man holds a photo of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial during the 2021 March on Washington. Despite the civil rights leader's advocacy work in the 1950s and 60s, the country is still at odds over who has access to the vote and under what circumstances.

As Democrats in the U.S. Senate get set to debate the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, young activists compare today's fight for ballot access to the efforts in the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

May 17th 1957, three years to the day after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, Dr. Martin Luther King was faced with rampant refusals to implement that decision and efforts to limit civil rights efforts which led him to call for a focus on voting rights.

On the day when America honors Dr. King nearly 65 years after that speech, voting rights for all Americans – including and especially those in marginalized communities – are still very much at the forefront of the news and the work of those who have followed King in seeking social justice.

Activist Kathy Alonso observed, "The issues that we face today are different than what Martin Luther King, Jr. faced in his time but nonetheless our democracy is at stake and we must continue to do the work."

  • Kathy Alonso, activist for increasing Hispanic participation in the political process in Liberal, Kansas
  • Ryan Sorrell, founding editor, The Kansas City Defender
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As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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