Children of MLK, John Lewis, CT Vivian speak out against Georgia voting laws

Three of the children of famed civil rights leaders express their outrage at laws aimed to disenfranchise Georgia voters of color

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Three of the children of renowned civil rights activists are fighting back against the new voting laws in Georgia.

They released a letter Monday night to lawmakers and corporate leaders condemning the law, per CNN.

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“Rather than sowing seeds to provide democracy the greatest chance to grow today and prevail tomorrow, legislators are attempting to transport us back to the shameful period of American history when mass voter suppression for communities of color was the law of the land,” read the letter signed by Bernice A. King, the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John-Miles Lewis, son of the late US Rep. John Lewis, and Al Vivian, son of Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian.

2021 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community Commemorative Service
Dr. Bernice A. King speaks during the 2021 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community Commemorative Service on January 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

The letter added: “The new voter suppression laws are a perversion of truth. Our democracy will be destroyed if we use blunt instruments to appease falsehoods.”

Signed into law last week by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, they prohibit voters from receiving food and water while in line, restrict the number of ballot drop boxes, adds new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, and allow local elections boards to be taken over by state officials.

“Yet, when the first test came challenging our corporations to move from words to action, to stand on behalf of disenfranchised voters, there was shocking silence,” added the letter. “Historically, companies’ growth and prosperity in Georgia required integration of democracy and free enterprise. The lack of action is not only ethically wrong and morally reprehensible, it hurts the corporate bottom line. Racism is bad for business.”

The new rules are said to be attempts to disenfranchise the state’s Black and voters of color.

 Voting rights groups and civil rights organizations have already filed lawsuits in federal court.

One was filed this week by Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, Georgia NAACP, Common Cause and the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe and League of Women Voters of Georgia.

“SB 202 is the culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color by the Republican State Senate, State House, and Governor,” the lawsuit reads, in part.

The law’s critics argue it is a direct reflection of the record-breaking turnout of voters in the two Senate runoff elections in January that sent Democratic candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Osoff to the Senate. That gave the chamber a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris providing a tie-breaker vote for the Democrats. The 2020 presidential election was also decided in favor of the Democratic candidate Joe Biden, marking the first time the state elected a Democrat for president since 1992.

Georgians Go To The Polls In Critical Senate Runoff Election
A woman holding a young child casts her vote in the Georgia run-off election at Dunbar Neighborhood Center on January 05, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Kemp claims there were “alarming issues” with the 2020 election, CNN reported. He also said critics of the law “will threaten, boycott, sue, demonize and team up with their friends in the national media to call me everything in the book.”

As per theGrio, Warnock also spoke out against the law.

He drew from his pastoral roots to make an analogy between the signing of the controversial new election bill and the story of Jesus and Palm Sunday. 

“It’s Palm Sunday, and Jesus confronts the powers, and we all have a decision to make. There was a governor that he confronts in that moment named Pilate. And the governor has a decision to make,” Warnock said on CNN. 

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“I think that all of us has a decision to make: Are we going to stand on the side of truth and righteousness and justice? Are we,” asked Warnock, “going to stand up on the right side of history? This is a defining moment in the American nation, and all of us have a role to play.”

Additional reporting by Biba Adams

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