BALTIMORE – In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 17, 2022, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) released the following statement. Senator Cardin serves as Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly.
“Each January, we celebrate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who gave voice to the civil rights movement and the struggle for equality for Black Americans. A federal holiday for more than two decades, we honor Dr. King’s work through service to others – helping the stranger and making our community a stronger, safer and more just place. This work cannot – and should not – be confined to one day a year.
“To truly honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we must work daily to right the wrongs of systemic racism and economic and health disparities, as well as hate and intolerance. In his 1963 letter from Birmingham, Dr. King wrote: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’
“It is fitting that within days of Martin Luther King Jr. Day that the U.S. Senate will consider legislation to preserve and protect voting rights. This is a matter of upholding our democracy. We must act to make sure everyone has the right to vote and their vote is counted accurately. At the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson described ‘the vote’ as ‘the most powerful instrument ever devised by human beings for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison people because they are different from others.’
“After record turnout in 2020, during a pandemic, far too many states across the country are taking steps that would make it harder for Black Americans, Latinos, seniors, people with disabilities, young people and others to vote. We can best honor Dr. King by reinforcing and expanding the right to vote instead of weakening and restricting this sacred right. These actions are as un-American as you can get, yet they continue.
“The Senate needs to act and put an end to such unconstitutional measures. If only Republicans of today would mind the words of former President Ronald Reagan, who said, ‘The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.’
“This is a perilous time for our nation. Will we choose to maintain and strengthen our democracy, or will we allow authoritarianism to take root? In memory of Martin Luther King Jr., and every man and woman who sacrificed on the unending path to make our nation a more perfect union, I will do everything in my power to preserve our democracy and make a more equitable and just nation. At times of great despair and frustration, the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. serve as my guide in this mission: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’”