New Georgia Project and New Georgia Project Action Fund COO, Kendra Cotton, speaks at a MLK Day Rally in Fulton County after President Biden’s stop in Atlanta to promote the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Cotton calls on President Biden and the U.S. Senate to do more than pay lip service to Dr. King. She demands that our elected leaders walk the walk as well by ending the filibuster, supporting federal voting rights protections, and passing progressive policies that will ensure the rights of all Americans—not just a few.
“I’m Kendra Cotton, the Chief Operating Officer of New Georgia Project and New Georgia Project Action Fund. Maybe you’ve seen or met some of my colleagues out here today in their purple shirts or purple hats. Shout out to New Georgia Project folks!
Today, we’re here to celebrate and commemorate The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A lot of people both on social media and in conversations are going talk a lot today about Dr. King. About how he has inspired them to do good. They’ll talk about today as a day of service and remember his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
Many of these people honor Dr. King with their LIPS, while their HEARTS and their ACTIONS are FAR from how he lived. Nothing about how they LIVE, nothing about how they THINK, nothing about how they treat their fellow man resembles Dr. King’s legacy. It is often revisionist history, plain and simple.
It’s the AUDACITY for me. To quote his speeches while willfully ignoring the context and content of his messages is actually sinister.
It’s as if they are trying to diminish and truncate his legacy by rendering him into some type of civil rights mascot.
Don’t misconstrue my words here today. Service and dreams are good, but what should inspire us the most is Dr. King’s politics and his actions.
He believed in worker’s rights, in wealth redistribution, and the radical notion that Black people in this country are full human beings. Not only deserving, but, demanding the rights, resources, and reparations we need to thrive.
And of course, he believed in ensuring the freedom to vote—a fight we once again find ourselves in.
In fact, just last week, the President was here speaking on this very subject. He heard us. But then the next day we all witnessed, or maybe some of us didn’t catch it, so let me fill you in.
Senator Sinema got up there on the Senate floor forcing out crocodile tears trying to convince us that preserving the filibuster was more important than voting rights.
She is the embodiment of the ‘white moderate’ that Dr. King warned us about in his ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail.’
In case you missed it: Senator Sinema urged us to ‘work together’ and ‘get along’ to reduce division in our country. She’s holding out for bipartisanship that’s never going to come.
So, why should we listen to anyone committed to upholding the filibuster, which is nothing more than a racist tool that has been used time and time again by ‘white moderates’ to obstruct progressive policies.
Even ironically, just a few short years ago, it was used to try to obstruct the establishment of MLK Day as a federal holiday. Her calls for bipartisanship are an obvious cover for her fear of losing power and her unwillingness to stand up for our rights and the rights of all Americans.
So, even though GEORGIA delivered the White House and changed the balance of power in the Senate, it’s become apparent that we cannot depend on the federal government.
That’s why New Georgia Project is out here. We take our cues from Dr. King.
We believe in unions. We believe in economic justice. We believe in building Black power. Because after all, as Dr. King said: ‘freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.’
New Georgia Project is proud to be out here today demanding the right to vote and launching our 2022 civic engagement work to keep building our collective power.
We’ve got 75 canvassers fanned out across the state registering voters to vote in cities across this state, so we can reach our goal of registering 55,000 people to vote this year.
Our organizing team is in Atlanta and Columbus talking to people, so that we can reach our goal of mobilizing 150,000 first-time voters to cast a ballot.
We’ve even got a COVID vaccine and testing pop up going on today.
And we’re going to be fighting for your communities all year. We know that communities need reproductive justice, access to affordable healthcare, environmental justice, and, of course, voting rights.
So, I am PROUD to be standing here with all of you today. Thank you for being part of this movement.
I encourage all of you to not just talk about the legacy of Dr. King. BE about it.
BE about justice. BE about righteousness. BE about fairness. BE about equality. Or keep his name out your mouth.”