Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King announce Drum Major Coalition to support advocacy groups

The coalition is a support network of wealthy donors funding 40 community groups that will receive an initial portion of $5 million and additional future grants.

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Relatives of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are launching a grassroots coalition to support Black and Brown advocacy groups working to promote voting access and education, equity and human rights.

On the 59th anniversary of his father’s pivotal “I Have a Dream” speech, eldest son Martin Luther King III and his wife Arndrea Waters King announced the Drum Major Coalition, a support network to fund 40 community groups that will receive an initial portion of $5 million and additional future grants, The Washington Post reported. 

Martin Luther King III. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“What I learned a long time ago, even my father’s campaigns, they really were marathons. And so this is a marathon,” King III said. “It is those individuals, those community organizations, that are working every day in the trenches that ultimately have the capacity, if they’re fully funded, to make tremendous impacts.”

The coalition itself is comprised of wealthy public figures, businesspeople and community leaders including Emmy-winning actor Ben Stiller, Slack co-founder Cal Henderson and cryptocurrency investor Michael Novogratz, per a news release, as reported by the Post.

The King family said that by 2024, their goal is to have recruited 200 coalition members who can collectively donate $100 million to efforts supporting Black voter registration, voting rights restoration for those with a felony conviction and education efforts in Latino evangelical communities, per the outlet.

The announcement comes approximately 57 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed on Aug. 6, 1965, yet barriers still persist for communities of color and other groups facing social marginalization, the family said.

FILE – Voters stand in line waiting for ballot for the North Carolina primary at a library in Raleigh, N.C., on May 6, 2008. Tens of thousands of people serving punishments for felony convictions in North Carolina but who aren’t behind bars can now register to vote and cast ballots following an appeals court ruling. Expanding the scope of those able to register and vote began on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, the State Board of Elections said. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds, File)

Arndrea emphasized the importance of community organization as the nation nears the November midterm elections, which will establish the party with majority control of Congress ahead of the 2024 presidential elections, the Post reported.

“Right now,” Arndrea said, “our democracy is in peril.”

Alluding to King Jr.’ and Coretta Scott King’s vision of a “beloved community,” where people can “live and work and thrive, unencumbered,” Arndrea said that the best way to realize that dream “is to help facilitate these groups on the ground that are organizing their communities every single day.”

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