Fighting for Voting Rights is How We Honor Dr. King’s Legacy - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Fighting for Voting Rights is How We Honor Dr. King’s Legacy

By Jorge L. Vasquez, Jr., Program Director, Power and Democracy

until every eligible voter has equal access to the polls and every voting age citizen is eligible to vote without unnecessary and unwarranted interference, there will always be citizens who, as Dr. King coined, “cannot live as a democratic citizen.”

Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director, and Jorge L. Vasquez, Jr., Power and Democracy Program Director, on the ground in Flordia during Election 2020 supporting grassroots organizations.“So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind—it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact—I can only submit to the edict of others.” This statement, made by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nearly 64 years ago, still rings true today.

As we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Power and Democracy Program at Advancement Project National Office is reminded of the importance of ensuring all voting age citizens are eligible to vote and have access to the ballot. As a nonpartisan racial justice organization committed to empowering Black, Brown, Native, Asian, Immigrant, and underrepresented communities, we honor Dr. King’s legacy by fighting to advance access to the polls, rights restoration, fair redistricting maps and more. We call upon local, state, and federal elected officials to work in unity to strengthen voting rights for all eligible voters.

For far too long, advancing democracy initiatives, including voting rights, has been viewed as a partisan issue with one side of the aisle alleging the other is attempting to dilute their constituents’ voice. Both Republicans and Democrats have been accused of manipulating the electoral system for party gain. This is precisely why we are committed to working with grassroots organizations and local groups to build power, self-determination, and provide access to political power.

Just like during the Civil Rights Movement, countless Black citizens and other diverse groups have protested and marched for the opportunity to be seen, heard, and treated equally by the government. America is more diverse now than ever, and diversity among voting blocs continues to expand. The 2020 Election marked the first time that nearly one third of all eligible voters were Black, Brown, or Asian. Additionally, about 10 percent of all eligible voters were naturalized citizens. As such, it is imperative that each of us join to ensure that every citizen has the space to “make up their own mind” and not “submit to the edict of others,” as Dr. King stated.

The fundamental foundation of a democratic republic, like the one in the United States, is that its citizens determine who is elected to office by casting their ballots. However, until every eligible voter has equal access to the polls and every voting age citizen is eligible to vote without unnecessary and unwarranted interference, there will always be citizens who, as Dr. King coined, “cannot live as a democratic citizen.”  If we are to truly be the democratic republic that we model to the world, legislators must act immediately to guarantee democracy can be realized by all.

The time for bipartisan efforts to safeguard access to democracy is upon us and Advancement Project National Office will remain committed to the fight until equal access is realized by all citizens.

jorge

Jorge L. Vasquez, Jr. is the Program Director for Power and Democracy. In this role, Jorge leads Advancement Project National Office’s voter protection, redistricting, rights restoration, and democracy initiatives. He has been recognized for his work as a national civil rights lawyer, policy influencer, and democracy expert.

KEEP READING

Leading Civil Rights Group on Reports Federal Officials Have Charged Four Current and Former Police Officers in the Killing of Breonna Taylor

Statement from Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project – National Office, a leading civil rights organization, on reports that federal officials have charged four current and former police officers involved in the fatal raid that killed Breonna Taylor, of several crimes, including lying to obtain a warrant that was used to search her home:  “Today, by moving forward with criminal charges against the four police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor as she slept in her bed, federal officials are recognizing what we have all known for years: Breonna Taylor should be alive…

Read More
Invest in People, Not Police

July 22, 2022 Contact: Yasmeen Ramahi, [email protected] “Invest in People, Not Police” Advancement Project National Office Response to Joe Biden’s “Safer America Plan” Washington, DC – In response to the “Safer America Plan” introduced by President Joe Biden on Thursday, Liyah Brown, program director for the Justice Project at Advancement Project National Office, issued this statement:  “President Biden’s call for an increase of 100,000 police officers in our communities will not only fail to improve public safety, but will…

Read More
Civil Rights Org Advancement Project National Office Responds to Biden’s Policing Order

NATIONAL – Today, on the two-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police and the subsequent uprisings across the country calling for an overhaul of police and policing, President Biden signed an Executive Order that aims to cut down on police abuse and misconduct. In response, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of the national civil rights group Advancement Project National Office, wrote this statement: “On the anniversary of the day when George Floyd was killed by state-sanctioned police violence, we are glad to see President Biden creating an initiative that aims to curtail police abuse…

Read More
Advancement Project Calls on America to Move Beyond Police and Prisons: “We Can’t Reform This System”

A year after George Floyd’s murder, Advancement Project National Office reflects on how to build a #FreeandSafe society for all people of color.

Read More
The Best Mother’s Day Gift is Freedom

By Ashley Carter, Justice Project Program Deputy Director and Senior Staff Attorney Photo credit: Cyndi Elledge // Photos are a part of the #FreeBlackWomxn series. Visit www.freeblackwomxn.org. Thousands of women with children across the United States will spend this Mother’s Day behind bars. The crisis of mass incarceration has fueled a family separation endemic: more than 150,000 children have a parent who is in jail simply because they are too poor to afford their court-imposed cash bail. This year we are working to support the 2021 Black Mama’s Day Bailout organized and led by our community partners…

Read More
Black Mama Bailout: #FreeBlackWomxn

Michigan Liberation and the Advancement Project National Office have launched the #FreeBlackWomxn campaign, a photo and storytelling project that elevates the voices of Black Michigan mothers who have experienced incarceration. We are honored that Kimberly, Machelle, Geneva, Darnita, Dominica, Irene, and Tamika shared their stories with us. Click each woman’s photo below to read their experience with incarceration.

Read More
Photo of the back of a police officer
More Cop Convictions Won’t Stop Racist Police Violence

By Thomas B. Harvey, Justice Project Program Director Last week, as people across America waited for a verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial, police in Ohio murdered a 16-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant. As Chauvin was found guilty on three counts for murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ma’Khia Bryant lay dead in the street in Columbus. Credit: Fred Moon While we should hope that Chauvin’s conviction brings some peace and healing to George Floyd’s family, friends, and the broader Minneapolis community, Ma’Khia’s murder reinforced a disturbing reality: individual convictions are irrelevant to the movement to end police violence. Cops will continue to…

Read More
Civil Rights and Racial Justice Organizations Applaud Chauvin Verdict: Accountability in the Courtroom One Step in Journey to Justice

This verdict, while unexpected in light of far too many past cases like this, does not bring George Floyd back.

Read More
Advancement Project Welcomes Chauvin Verdict, Implores America to Move Beyond Policing

Today, in response to the conviction of Derek Chauvin for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter...

Read More
Advancement Project Statement on Murder of Adam Toledo

Today, we join Chicago in grief and outrage at the murder of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Latino boy whose life was cruelly taken by Chicago Police. We express our deepest sympathy to Adam’s friends and family; we stand in solidarity with organizers, activists, and the broader Chicago community as they take to the street to express their despair and demand justice.

Read More