BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Boston and state civic leaders are pushing for voting rights reform at the national level. Imari Paris Jeffries is the Executive Director of King Boston, a nonprofit organization trying to erect a memorial in King's honor on Boston Common. He says the day is about looking back, but also looking forward.
"I know that he was a young person doing this work, and so it gives me hope for the young people in our country and in the world to be the next Dr. King and Mrs. King in this moment," he said.
Dr. King earned a doctorate in theology at Boston University. Jeffries and many other local civic leaders are focusing on federal voting rights in Congress this holiday.
"This MLK holiday, I'm particularly thinking of the two voting rights acts in motion, and I'm hoping that we can honor the legacy of Dr. King by ensuring that one of those two are passed," he said. Other local leaders, from Senator Ed Markey to Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley had similar sentiments today.
"I’m glad the House moved swiftly to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and Freedom to Vote Act. The Senate must follow suit," Pressley said, and Sen. Markey said that "Dr. King knew the ballot is the key to realizing the liberty that all Americans deserve." The two bills have been held up in the evenly-split Senate, and face an uphill climb as the Senate filibuster rules require 60 votes to pass legislation.
A City of Boston memorial event for Dr. and Mrs. King will be held at Boston University on Monday at 2:00, with Mayor Michelle Wu speaking.
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